Even though it is in no way fancy, The Cottage Restaurant is the polite place to dine in Alexandria. Located on a corner in a small strip mall, it has a tea room feel. The interior is the size of a ballroom, with plenty of space in between tables.
The menu is mostly soups, salads and uncomplicated sandwiches. One of the best things about The Cottage is that they make it easy to order smaller portions. For instance, soups come in three sizes: a bowl, medium or a demi, which is not much more than just a few spoonfuls. And desserts can be ordered in half portions.
Not being able to decide between two of the soups, I chose to try them both. The chicken and sausage gumbo was moderately spiced, with large chunks of both meats. Even better was the luxurious cream of shrimp soup. Trying to figure out what was in it, I asked the waitress if it contained sherry. She replied that the recipe was a closely guarded secret and even though she has been there for years, she had no idea what was in it. Crumbly cornbread comes on the side of all soups.
For an entrée, I was steered towards the hot chicken sandwich, which the menu calls, “a real lunch treat”. This is a 4oz. boneless chicken breast, grilled and seasoned, on wheat toast, with tomato, provolone and mayo. Ladies who lunch would approve! For dessert, a thin slice of ultra-rich peanut butter pie with chopped up peanuts throughout, a thin graham cracker crust and topped with a dollop of homemade cream. To drink, go for the refreshing almond tea, which reminded me of an Arnold Palmer.
The Cottage is open for lunch only. Service is casual and motherly. When the elderly gentleman at the table next to me complained about his mobility issues, the waitress told him he should call ahead, honk when he got there and they would run the food out to him.