Simple Pleasures

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Amid the many Galleria-area lunch spots where power deals are negotiated resides a cafe suitable for eating lunch in your shirt sleeves. In fact, if you wear a suit jacket in this joint, you're likely to feel out of place. The Fountainview Cafe is an enclave of comforting reliability in the ever-evolving sea of high-rise office buildings, apartments, townhomes and fancy shopping centers that make up the San Felipe corridor through Tanglewood and Briargrove. In my decade plus of eating here, I don't think one thing in its functional decor has changed. There even seems to be a glacial rate of turnover among the staff.

Here, corporate types and well-heeled Briargrove housewives come to decompress over a cup of soup and a salad or a daily special that might be based around the likes of meat loaf or chicken and dumplings. The gargantuan burgers are especially noteworthy: they drip with mayo and mustard, bulge with thick onion slices, pickles and tomatoes. The fries are of the skin-on variety, long and crisp and served absolutely plain; you're trusted to doctor them up properly yourself. Be vigilant when ordering a sandwich, however: unless otherwise specified, a ham sandwich, chock full of thin layers of deli meat, will come out on white bread and with mayonnaise instead of mustard.

The best thing about this place is the breakfasts: thin and chewy plate-sized pancakes that are served with a golf-ball-sized scoop of butter sliding around in the middle; skyscraper-high biscuits that manage to be both fluffy and dense at the same time, cut square out of their pan with rivulets of basted-on butter staining their snowy white insides; a dark patty of hash browns that are pure, simple, unadorned, fall-apart tender shredded potatoes.

Or maybe the best thing about this place is its cakes: obscenely tall affairs of at least three layers each. My favorite is the German chocolate, extravagantly rich, four layers high, slathered with an amazingly buttery coconut frosting. Hmmm. Thinking about that cake, I believe I've just decided where I'm going to have lunch today.

-- Kelley Blewster

Fountainview Cafe, 1842 Fountainview, 785-9060.

Fountainview Cafe:
short stack of pancakes, $2.45;
cheeseburger, $3.95.

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