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Icing on the Cake
The tea room at Main Memories treats cake the way Marble Slab does ice cream: as a platform for heaping on creamy, crunchy goodies that would make a nutritionist's head spin. When you top inches of whipped cream with pulverized candy bars, considerations of quality in the gateau underneath the deluge become ridiculously moot. The simple bases that come out of this kitchen, however, are noticeably springy and moist.

What's at the bottom of the Chocolate Delight is recognizable as a brownie, but getting to it requires excavating layers of Heath Bar bits, whipped cream and suspiciously prefab chocolate pudding. Ginny's Wicked Cake follows a similar formula, substituting plain chocolate cake and adding caramel sauce to the mix; the sprinkling of crushed Butterfingers gives the concoction the appealing accents of an autumn landscape. Yes, they are sensory overloads; approach them on an empty stomach at your own risk.

Fortunately, Main Memories offers a pair of sturdy preliminaries. The quiche does justice to the building's history as an egg ranch. Filled out with spinach, or broccoli and ham, this interpretation is hardy, coarse and almost breadlike.

Smooth chicken salad, dotted with just enough pimiento, celery and onion, is another reliable choice. It's part of the Triple Delight, which offers ultimate immersion in the tea room experience -- as well as an exercise in salads without lettuce. Chilled pasta spirals and grated Cheddar cheese make up the second item, while the third is straight from a Garrison Keillor monologue. Called pistachio salad, it's a mix of whipped cream, marshmallows and pineapple, pastel green in color and almost frozen in texture. In Montrose, this would be camp; in the midst of colored-glass vases and pseudo-country knickknacks, this '50s throwback is dead serious.

Drive-Through Requiem Drive-through windows aren't what you normally call charming. That's an apt adjective, however, for the arrangement at Freida's Kolache Shoppe, where drivers pull up alongside the building and talk through an open window to an employee inside. The setup hearkens back to days past and is, unfortunately, about to join them. In mid-November, Freida's is relocating to a strip center at 3208 Pasadena Boulevard and leaving behind the concept of drive-through ordering. The generous lineup of doughy, dusted kolaches will remain, of course; try the rarely found coconut cream version.

-- Kathy Biehl

Main Memories, 3500 West Main, League City, (281) 554-2312; Freida's Kolache Shoppe, 1020 Richey, Pasadena, 477-7122.

 
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