Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coffee and gossip - two of my favorite things

I learned early on as a freshman news reporter that to really find out what's going on in a place, you can't skulk around city hall. Instead, you park your butt in the best local cafe and pay attention to the local crowd.

When I transplanted myself here from little New England, it was kind of a culture shock of chain restaurants and traffic whizzing by. It took me a while to find those kitschy little local places where the pie is homemade and the gossip is just as fresh as the coffee.

Found a great one in Ellenton - D's Ellenton Cafe (7044 US 301 North, Ellenton, 941-723-1139). It's tucked away near the Rocky Bluffs Public Library, one of my all-time favorite places to wile away a rainy day. I never noticed it before; it's sort of unassuming and quiet under its cafe awnings.

Like all the other places I find, I just wandered in one day, drawn by the smell of good coffee. Ellenton Cafe is the kind of place that serves breakfast all day, and has great homemade desserts. The kind of place to knock off a sinfully juicy cheeseburger and a side of fries, and get served a good helping of local gossip.

It was obvious that Ellenton Cafe draws the same crowd in daily - they all seemed to know one another by name. It's the kind of thing I miss about living up north, that small-town feeling; like when you walk in a place, it's like slipping into your favorite house shoes.

My server tells me the meatloaf is indescribable - practically its own food group. After the pie I ate, I believe her. I know I'll have to slip in there again at dinnertime to see. And maybe, just maybe, if I slip in there enough, I could even be considered a local myself. You never know.

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