In Ida County, Dan Kaercher travels back in time and discover some interesting sites on my way to the elegant Battle Creek Bed & Breakfeast.
In Ida County, I travel back in time and discover some interesting sites on my way to a distinctive Battle Creek B&B. We are on our way to our feature destination. An architectural gem of a bed and breakfast in Battle Creek. But first en route I wanted to get a close up peek of another architectural treat. The castles of nearby Ida Grove. Inspired by the late Byron Godbersen, a local business man, these castle like structures are for the most part private. But some pre-arranged tours are available and anyone can take a drive by look at the exteriors. You will feel like you are in a medieval village. Now, on to Battle Creek just eight miles down the road and another architectural era. A Victorian Bed and Breakfast listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the sleepy town of Battle Creek, population of about 700, Jeff and Nancy Decker own and operate a B&B and a full service restaurant in this charming Victorian built in 1899.
Jeff Decker: My wife and I were shopping on the internet. We were looking at bed and breakfasts literally all over the country and we kept getting drawn back to Battle Creek because of the Victorian architecture. And we have always wanted a Victorian Bed and Breakfast and we came here to Battle Creek.
Dan Kaercher: With four children, this busy couple gingerly juggles family time with job duties. Jeff is the culinary expert. A pretty big job considering the gourmet food served in the restaurant here. And Nancy handles the daily upkeep and business side of things.
Nancy Decker: We have a 13 step commute to work and our children are close and it makes it doable in the sense that if they need us for any reason we're here and they can come to us. It works well. It caused us to be closer, I think.
Dan Kaercher: As I look around the place, I am impressed by all the glorious architectural details. It really does feel like I have taken a step back in time.
Nancy Decker: It was built in 1899 by Dr. Francis Warnock. He built it for his wife, Nellie and their daughter, Lucille. The architect of the house is George F. Barber who is a prominent Victorian architect and he designed this house specifically for Frank Warnock. And so this is the significance for the house being on the National Register of Historic Places. You can actually still buy plans today of George F. Barber's to build a Victorian home. But you wouldn't find this one for sale because it was designed specifically for Frank Warnock.
Dan Kaercher: There are three dining rooms on the first floor to accommodate large or small groups and upstairs are four bedrooms all with their own private bathrooms and showers. Decorated with - antiques each room has its own special character.
Nancy Decker: We have the "Rose Room" which has a brass queen sized bed in it. It actually was Dr. Warnock's bedroom. The builder of the house. The "Gold Room" was Mrs. Warnock's bedroom and it has an antique full sized bed that is made of solid hand carved walnut. And their bedrooms actually connected with the pass-through through the closets which are now bathrooms. And then the next room over connects to the "Gold Room" and it would have been the nursery of the house. So that Mrs. Warnock could get to the child. And then the "Blue Room" is a smaller room on the back of the house with a king sized bed in it.
Dan Kaercher: What I really love most about the Inn of Battle Creek is the food. The Inn Restaurant is open to the public on Friday and Saturday evenings. The menu is incredible.
Jeff Decker: We serve a varied menu. A lot of different seafood. We are in the Midwest so of course several beef dishes, duck, lamb. We smoke our own pork ribs in back. We do a little bit of everything.
Dan Kaercher: I asked Jeff to prepare some of his most popular and favorite dishes. Do you even need to ask? Of course I am going to taste them all.
Server: Black and Bleu Ribeye.
Dan Kaercher: Perfectly prepared ribeye steak with Bleu Cheese melted on top. Divine. Next the chef brings out Halibut Sofrito.
Jeff Decker: Sofrito is a Caribbean relish and it is made with peppers and cilantro, fresh lime juice, we mix it with the butter and top it off, top the halibut off, and bake it in the oven. It has a nice sharp flavor but it is nice and light as well.
Dan Kaercher: It is not surprising that this talented and creative chef also specializes in another gourmet delicacy, cheesecake. Totally homemade. 27 varieties.
Jeff Decker: The one recipe that we used as the base recipe for everything was our raspberry cheesecake on a walnut crust. The nut crust, savory nut crust, is just a nice compliment to the sweet and creamy batter in the filling of the cheesecake. But that recipe was such a hit that we had taken that and adapted it to every other cheesecake that we have now.
Dan Kaercher: Yummy. Not only decadent to taste but pretty to look at too. I have had such a wonderful meal and dessert and it is nice to know that all I have to do is climb the staircase and tumble into a big comfortable bed. I know I am going to sleep well tonight. The best part about staying at this B&B is the complimentary breakfast or in this case morning feast. Looks great.
Nancy Decker: Yes, enjoy your breakfast.
Dan Kaercher: Thank you ma'am. Pancakes, sausage, eggs and fruit. Such a great way to start the day. It is amazing how I can be this hungry this soon after that great dinner last night. I have really enjoyed my overnight at the Inn at Battle Creek. An architectural taste of the past infused with fabulous gourmet flavors.