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Another Time

Rosenberg soda fountain offers nostalgia to diners.

 For more photos from the soda fountain and Another Time's kitchen, check out our slideshow.

From my perch at the long wooden bar, I watched with childlike glee as a soda jerk at Another Time Soda Fountain built a one-pound banana split that could have rivaled the enormous Ziggy Pig sundae from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Each scoop of ice cream was roughly the size of a grown man's fist: first vanilla on the bananas below, then strawberry, then chocolate. All Blue Bell, naturally.

On went Hershey's chocolate syrup, then strawberry syrup, then crushed pineapples. By the time the whipped cream, chopped nuts and cherries were being placed on top of the creation, the smiling soda jerk had nearly the entire bar's attention. People around me — myself included — oohed and aahed as it was placed in front of a boy to my right who was grinning like a cat eating bees, spoon at the ready. All in a day's work at Another Time, the little soda fountain in downtown Rosenberg that strives to recapture simple pleasures of times past.

Memory lane: a shake and a chili dog.
Troy Fields
Memory lane: a shake and a chili dog.

Location Info

Map

Another Time Soda Fountain

800 Third St.
Rosenberg, TX 77471

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Outside Houston

Details

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Half-pound burger & fries: $6.95

Chili cheese hot dogs & fries: $6.50

Patty melt & fries: $7

Steak fingers & fries: $7

Phosphates: $2

Banana split: $5.25

Shakes: $4

Malts: $4.25

Another Time Soda Fountain

800 Third St., Rosenberg, 281-232-2999.

Banana splits are just one of the old-timey offerings here, where the menu also includes items like Coke shakes (not floats!), lime coolers and phosphates — drinks I've never seen anywhere else in Houston, even at similarly retro places like 59 Diner. Phosphates are the precursors to modern soft drinks, where phosphoric acid was added into the water to give it a tangy fizz. After the water was carbonated in this way, flavored syrups like orange and cherry (two of the more popular phosphate flavors) were added and voilà! Instant soft drink.

Although no one uses phosphoric acid anymore at soda fountains (it's very difficult to get your hands on, and not terribly good for you), that doesn't mean drinks called phosphates aren't still made: They're simply made with citric acid instead now. My dining companion on my first visit to Another Time was so shocked to see them on the menu, she insisted on ordering one right away. At Another Time, the syrup is introduced to the pre-fizzed water (which is room temperature), with ice stirred in afterward — the old-fashioned way.

The resulting drink — a grape phosphate, in my case — is the purest, cleanest-tasting soft drink I'd ever had. It's enough to turn you off canned soft drinks for good. The lemonade and limeade are made in a similar fashion: hand-squeezing fresh fruits into a glass, then topping with room-temperature water and a generous helping of Imperial sugar, before finally stirring ice in after the sugar has dissolved.

Arriving shortly after our drinks were our equally old-fashioned entrées: mine, a patty melt on rye. My dining companion's, a basket full of steak fingers. While my patty melt was severely lacking in the character and flavor departments — a weary, overcooked hamburger patty on dry bread with very little cheese or sautéed onions — the steak fingers were as tremendous as the patty melt was underwhelming. Each finger of steak had been pounded thin, tender and soft in the extra crunchy batter that coated them. As my friend blissfully polished them off one by one, she exclaimed, "I haven't had steak fingers since I was a little kid."

That's the entire theme of Another Time, it seems. A theme I heartily endorse.
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The building that houses Another Time was built in downtown Rosenberg in 1910 as the Meyer-Foster-Mulcahy building. It originally held a pharmacy with a soda fountain, and although the pharmacy is long gone, owner Renee Butler has ensured that the soda fountain remains.

Butler opened Another Time in February 2003 and has spent a considerable bit of effort dressing the place up in trappings of a bygone era: Old Carnation malted milk canisters sit on the high shelves behind the bar next to antique soda glasses and ice cream sundae bowls. Vintage signs hang on the walls. A bright yellow Dr Pepper clock from the early 1950s hangs on one wall, the period after the "Dr" attesting to its age. On the tall ceilings, pressed tin reflects the boisterous sounds of little kids digging into bowls of ice cream, of families having leisurely weekend lunches before heading to the Railroad Museum or one of Rosenberg's many antique stores.

In this way, it reminds me of La King's on Galveston's historic Strand, but with one notable difference: the food. Although that patty melt on my first visit was off-putting, it was happily not reflective of the rest of the meals I enjoyed here.

Though you can order a salad here, there's not much point — you're going to be washing it down with a butterscotch malt, after all, if you're anything like me. You may as well go whole hog and order one of Another Time's burgers or, better yet, a plate of chili dogs. Salads are no good for trips down memory lane, while chili dogs serve that purpose quite nicely.

Covered with homemade chili and shredded cheese — plus chopped onions and mustard if you so desire (I do) — each plump hot dog is nestled in a grilled bun, the dogs themselves all-beef and verging on bursting out of their skins. It's a challenge to eat two of them, but I almost managed to make my way through a plate before my dining partner heroically took over. Eating them with a knife and fork may have been an awfully affected way of going about it, but it allowed me to get perfectly balanced bites of hot dog, chili, cheese and onion with each forkful, and I was happier for it.

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4 comments
Cory Martin
Cory Martin

I'm really crossing my fingers that businesses like this get the engine running on revitalizing downtown Rosenberg. The strip mall developments near the freeway are helping, but I've always felt it could only really shine if folks like these took pride in the town. I'll definitely be checking this place out.

Kelli
Kelli

Man o man, I wish there was somewhere in town like that, I think the closest places would be Avalon Diner or Yale St. Grill......mmmmm just thinking about a shake and burger like their's gets my stomach growling.

Tom_byron
Tom_byron

What is your going rate for a verbal bj? "a grape phosphate, in my case — is the purest, cleanest-tasting soft drink I'd ever had. It's enough to turn you off canned soft drinks for good" I guess most HP readers must be morons.

ndrew
ndrew

This is the only restaurant where I can justify ordering an ice cream shake with a hamburger--the satisfaction is worth the calories! Just be warned that they close at 5; we drove out there from Houston for dinner once and were so disappointed that we had to drive out again the next week for lunch.

 
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