A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of spending a few days with my parents. While we did spend every evening together, during the day we typically did things in pairs. Most of those days my mom and I spent time together, touring the area, browsing in shops, and stopping for a bite to eat. Out of our three different dining locations, two were excellent choices, and one was mediocre, at best. Of course, the important part of this trip wasn’t the food, it was spending time with my parents. However, as I found a few great cafés, they seemed worthy of sharing.
Our first trip was the downtown of Dunnellon, Florida. There were a few quaint shops, but even more catching to my eye, was the adorable restaurant, Abigail’s Café. With a charming front porch, beautiful color schemes, and unique decorations, I felt right at home. When we stopped, neither my mom nor I was really hungry for lunch. In fact, we only intended to have some coffee. But as we walked by the pastry case, it was hard not to notice all of the delectable treats.
Knowing we had plans for dinner later in the afternoon, we decided to give in to indulgence but on a small scale by sharing one dessert. Both of us love carrot cake, making the decision an easy one. The cake was moist and full of flavor with plenty of carrots and nuts. Topped with a perfectly sweet cream cheese frosting, this was well worth the indulgence. Add the attentive and warm service, and you have a winner of a restaurant. Abigail’s will be on my must return-to list for my next Florida trip.
On our second day of driving around, we ended up in Dunnellon again. This time we were hungrier and were seeking a more filling meal. We decided to give Victoria’s Retaurant a try. With beautiful warm weather, we chose seats on their deck overlooking the Rainbow River. Rather than opting for meals or sandwiches, we decided to split two appetizers. We chose sweet potato fries and mozzarella sticks.
I know, we ordered two fried dishes, which typically isn’t my style. However, these can be well done, if they are homemade. Sadly, this was not the case. It seems that both of our dishes went from bags in the freezer to hot oil to our table. Add that our waitress forgot to deliver water until 15 minutes after requested and my drink order was wrong, and you have a very unsatisfying lunch. The best parts of this lunch were spending time with my mom and watching boats and kayaks travel down the river.
Thankfully on our third day of driving around, we found another delight. After stopping to visit my dad and his boat building group (which was quite interesting), we went to downtown Crystal River. There we found The Highlander Café. Although it was a busy place to be, we were able to be seated within minutes. Reviewing the menu, we were entertained by the bagpipers playing on the lawn in front of the café.
There were many fabulous options between quiche, sandwiches, soups, and salad. I decided to have the Coronation Chicken, which was served on a ciabatta roll. This curried chicken salad was filled with chunks of tender chicken and had a nice amount of sauce: enough to add flavor but not soupy in the least. In addition to enjoying the sandwich, I love that it was served with a beautiful side salad. Fresh greens, grape tomatoes, strawberries, and mandarin orange slices made a colorful and light addition to the meal.
The Highlander Café is also on my must-return list. With delicious food, free entertainment, and friendly service, it was a wonderful lunch destination.