Victoria’s Cafe

Date
28 Aug 2011
Cuisine
American
Cost
Average Cost ($8-$14)
Location
Southeast Huntsville
Rating
3 out of 5

Melanie’s Take

When I was a little girl, there was an old Victorian-style house in Decatur that had been turned into a restaurant. Whenever I ate there, I ordered things I couldn’t pronounce like “poulet” and could imagine myself as a member of high society, lunching in a room full of women who surely shopped at specialty stores and attended cotillions. As I grew up, the place went out of business, and I didn’t know where to get my strawberry pretzel salad fix. Several years ago, Victoria’s Cafe opened in Huntsville. It is a favorite lunch spot of ladies in town who love feminine atmosphere and food like strawberry pretzel salad.

Having eaten at Victoria’s several times before, I knew that I wanted to review my favorite dish here– the poulet de normandie. It is chicken and dressing topped with cream of mushroom soup and cheese, then baked together. Although I wish the soup were incorporated into the dish instead of resting on top of it, I always find this entree delicious. It is non-gourmet creamy comfort food at its best. It was served with a roll, macaroni salad (my substitution for copper pennies), and a cranberry salad. I chose the macaroni salad, having never tried it before, and I was surprised at its flavor. It reminded me much more of a carrot salad with macaroni thrown in and was not my favorite. If you like carrot salad, you might love this dish. The cranberry salad is the congealed variety and offers tangy tartness and sweetness at the same time. Although I didn’t order it this time, a favorite substitute for the cranberry salad (beware the $3 upcharge) is the strawberry-pretzel salad. If you’ve never tried it, give it a whirl. The sweet pretzel crust is crunchy and is a nice salty balance to the sweet cream cheese and strawberry topping.

Victoria's Cafe Dining Room

If you’re looking for a lunch spot to meet up with your old sorority sisters or your future mother-in-law, Victoria’s is a great choice. Its menu items are unique among restaurants in town and its ambience is feminine and traditional, although a bit conservative. No breakfast or dinner here; if you get the bug to drop by, be sure to do so during lunch hours.

Shane’s Take

Following our recent macho meal at Simp McGhee’s, it seemed appropriate that we visit Victoria’s, the go-to answer to “Where’s a place around here that serves strawberry pretzel salad?”, the sort of question septuagenarian bachelors and avid eater-outers should always be ready to answer. The atmosphere at Victoria’s left me aghast and speechless. I felt like I’d walked uninvited into a late ’70s Tupperware party or a Brontë sisters book fair. I mean, wow, Victoria’s is a place for women: soft music, muted colors, small gardens of silk flowers, an all-woman staff…it looks like a ladies-only Piccadilly Cafeteria. It’s not an offensive or upsetting atmosphere, mind you, but it’s tough for a dude. Even Chuck Norris would be a little less of a man while eating at Victoria’s.

Meatloaf

Likewise, the food is fit for women. All the lady standards are there: strawberry pretzel salad, poulet, cranberry salad, fruit tea, etc. Fortunately, they serve a burger and meatloaf to pacify the occasional male visitor (I recall seeing 6 or 7 of us, which made for 5% of all diners), and I fit the stereotype by ordering meatloaf, which came with green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, and cornbread. I ordered the fruit tea to go with it (of course—what man wouldn’t?). The meatloaf had a decent flavor and the portion was generous, but it was heavy on the ketchup: it was topped with ketchup, tasted like it had ketchup in the loaf, and was served with a side of ketchup. It needed more meat to catch up to all that ketchup. I really enjoyed the garlicky and buttery mashed potatoes, even though they had the texture of grits. The green beans and the cornbread were forgettable. The fruit tea, which was more of a pineapple orange juice than a tea, was fine but no better than a garden-variety chain restaurant fruit tea. Overall, the food was not bad but not impressive. I don’t mean to be harsh, but a decent home cook could match it any day.

Fruit Tea

I appreciated the good service we received. My party was composed of about 10 women, me, and another guy, so us guys were greatly outnumbered. I was amused when our waitress kindly acknowledge our minority status as she told us that most men opt for the burger or meatloaf. She also took my order quickly so I could return to work in a reasonable time, and she brought lots of fruit tea refills! Since I was drinking a fruit juice, I expected refills to be sparse, but they weren’t, and that was a nice surprise. Despite the unforgettable experience of Victoria’s, I don’t plan to return. It’s just too girly for a man. Sure, I’ll return with Melanie if she presses, but I’ll first suggest some alternatives (Designing Women reruns, anyone?). Also, the prices are high. Out the door, it costs about $13 a person, which is too much for the common ingredients and plain preparation. Among the Golden Girlsatmosphere, plain food, and high prices, I just don’t see a return in my future. A few other things:

  • Victoria’s is a deceptively giant restaurant. I was taken by its size.
  • Watch out for substitutions. They charge about $3 for substitutions that should be no charge.
  • Also, be careful if you order a soda: they’ll bring you a can, not a bottomless fountain drink.
Victoria's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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