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3110 views | updated 01/15/2009 by ROUNDUS
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Pano Thumbnail Ellen's Cafe & Gifts
If you go to...Ellen's Cafe
by: Barbara Vosbein, Humble Observer

On a warm, sunny day, the lure of Old Town Spring is hard to resist. Visiting the shops, boutiques, and galleries in the restored, turn-of-the-century railroad town is a treat, and the icing on the cake is having lunch at Ellen's Cafe, as fellow reporter Susan Meinholz and I discovered recently.

We were greeted cheerfully by owner Ellen Saxe and seated at a table in the light, bright indoor dining room. Tables shaded by umbrellas are also available outdoors on the wooden deck overlooking the street.

Menu items include a wide variety of entree salads, cafe sandwiches, specialty sandwiches and quiche. Sandwiches are served with your choice of one side of either soup or salad. The cafe also serves wine by the glass and beer, along with traditional beverages, including fresh-brewed raspberry iced tea.

Susan chose the Trio Salad ($9.95), a sampler of the cafe's three favorite salads--chicken, tuna and seafood--served on a platter of cold, crisp greens garnished with tomato, cucumber, lemon wedges and a sliced hard-boiled egg.

"The chicken salad had slivers of pineapple and nuts, and the tuna had celery," Susan said. "I could barely tell there was mayonnaise in the salads since I could taste every flavor. The seafood salad had a medley of crab and vegetables, and the flavors were strong and delicious."

I tried one of the cafe's specialty sandwichs, the Chicken Ranch ($9.95), a grilled chicken breast topped with avocado, alfalfa sprouts and ranch dressing in a pita pocket, and for my side, I ordered a bowl of the cauliflower cheese soup.

To my delight, the generous bowl of soup was piping hot, thick and creamy, with just a hint of bacon adding to the delicious flavor. I was really surprised to find out that all the soups at Ellen's Cafe are homemade by Saxe's husband, Alan, and are either low fat or fat free.

My sandwich included a large boneless chicken breast that was grilled to perfection and was also served piping hot. The avocado, sprouts and ranch dressing complimented the chicken with a combination of creamy and crunchy textures. The portions were so generous that I found it easier, and less messy, to eat with a knife and fork.

On Saxe's recommendation, we ordered the blackberry cobbler and a slice of double fudge chocolate cake ($4.99 each). The servings were so generous that we shared them with our fellow reporters at the office.

"The chocolate cake was rich, with delicious swirls of chocolate throughout," Susan noted.

"The blackberry cobbler was full of flavor," said Observer sports editor Dwight Bullock. "The dough reminded me of cobblers made the old fashioned way, from scratch. I believe I will make the trip to Old Town Spring just to have it again."

Saxe also offered us samples of the cafe's award-winning fudge.

"As the fudge melted in your mouth, you could taste each of the flavors," Susan said.

"The milk chocolate fudge was the richest, creamiest fudge I've ever tasted," added Observer receptionist Katie McDevitt.

Saxe has had a gift shop at the Gentry Street location for the past 10 years. She decided to open the cafe with her husband about two years ago. Plans are in the works to add a dining area for the private functions and another outside deck in back of the cafe.

Saxe's husband is the cafe's chef. In addition to making all the soups, salads, sandwiches, quiche and desserts served in the restaurant, he also makes 30 varieties of fudge and all of the ice cream sold there. A small taste of the coffee toffee chip ice cream made me realize that I'd forgotten how rich old-fashioned homemade icecream can taste.

-- Barbara Vosbein, Humble Observer
Ellen's Cafe & Gifts
307 Gentry
Spring, Texas 77373
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Ellen's Website
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Cute little shop!
by Sadie on January 16th, 2009 12:52:26
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