Memorable | One of the Best
Country Dove Tea Room
Review by: Michael Stern
Oklahoma’s best-known foods are beef, burgers, barbecue, and catfish – all of them rugged and bold. But if you travel west to Elk City, you will find the Country Dove Tea Room and a completely different kind of meal: ladies lunch. It is served in a charming little place that is a 1920s country home, where meals share the spotlight with an inventory of country décor and crafts and a large selection of Christian books for sale.
Gentle food, served with grace and good manners: creamed soups accompanied by heart-shaped muffins and honey butter; little squares of Jell-O here known as “Jell-O salad,” positioned on a lettuce leaf. The house specialty is chicken-avocado salad, which is the two elements pulverized together with mayonnaise and served on either a croissant or grilled wheat bun. The day’s special when I stopped in was “Mexican Fiesta” – a mild-mannered casserole with a south-of-the-border twist. King Ranch casserole is another specialty.
It is such a nice, polite, repertoire of dishes … until you get to dessert and French silk pie, which is a powerhouse: lasciviously chocolaty, smooth, dense, topped with a frothy ribbon of whipped cream and mounted on a plush nut crust. Alternative desserts include almond pound cake with lemon curd sauce and New York cheesecake.
Proprietors Glenna Hollis and Kay Farmer originally opened for business over 30 years ago, but not as a restaurant. Country Dove was strictly retail country décor. But business was slow; and one day a woman passing through said to them, “You girls need to put in a tea room.” She advised, “Do not use iceberg lettuce” and provided the recipe for raisin bran muffins and the chicken-avocado salad. Kay had some experience in food service, having been a soda jerk at her father’s lunch counter, and the recipe for the awe-inspiring French silk pie was provided by her mother. Now that old Route 66 is such a tourist attraction and Elk City has become a destination for its grand-scale National Route 66 Museum, the little restaurant attracts tourists from all over the country and the world.
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