Even though it is in no way fancy, The Cottage Restaurant is the polite place to dine in Alexandria, Louisiana. 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 between tables.
The menu is mostly soups, salads, and uncomplicated sandwiches. One of the best things about The Cottage is that it’s easy to order smaller portions. For instance, soups come in three sizes: a bowl, medium, or a demi, which is not much more than a few spoonfuls. Desserts can be ordered in half portions.
Chicken and sausage gumbo, a south Louisiana staple, is moderately spiced, with large chunks of both meats. Even better is 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 is 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.
The menu calls its hot chicken sandwich “a real lunch treat.” It is a 4-ounce boneless chicken breast, grilled and seasoned, on wheat toast, with tomato, provolone, and mayo. Ladies who lunch would approve! For dessert: a slice of ultra-rich peanut butter pie with chopped peanuts throughout, a thin graham cracker crust and topped with a dollop of homemade cream. To drink: refreshing almond tea, which reminds 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.