Sunday, July 20, 2008

When Ladies Wore Gloves To Tea

Branson has a secret. The beautiful theaters and thrilling attractions made Branson a big dot on the map, but they would not be here if Rueben Branson hadn't opened the first general store in this county. This store also became the post office for Branson, Missouri and a little dot carrying Rueben's family name popped up on the map back in 1882.

Nestled on the bluff between Lake Taneycomo and the "strip" of theaters is the original town of Branson with many of the original buildings. There is an old-fashioned 5-and-dime store, corner drugstore and quaint little shops of all kinds. Many of the settlers' homes, some no larger than cabins, are now occupied by accountants, beauty shops, and even a dog groomer, but only their unobtrusive signs belie their new identity. The tree-lined streets welcome visitors the same as the cozy neighborhoods they once were.

My mom and I discovered a jewel in old town Branson. Sitting right on Main Street is one of the original homes that has been converted to a charming tea room called Ruby Lena's Tea Room. You enter into a cozy foyer furnished with antique bent-glass curio cabinets and china hutches. The contents of these beautiful antiques range from delicate old china and tea sets to doilies and dolls that once cheered a young girl. The main room is bright with large windows and lace curtains. Tasty lunches and homemade desserts are served to guests seated at a variety of tables which are prepared for cozy parties of two or luncheons for eight. An eclectic collection of tablecloths and cloth napkins make each setting unique. Even during their busiest times the chatter of conversation is barely above a moderate buzz, leaving one to be able to hear the faint echoes of bygone family gatherings in that house.

The lunches are creative and light, with specialty quiches such as chicken pecan. The crust is actually made of pecans! I love the chicken strawberry salad which is a surprising taste treat. Morsels of specially grilled chicken are tossed with fresh strawberry slices and blueberries on a bed of all those fancy greens. Very refreshing on a hot day. But what I always order is the strawberry soup. As thick as potato soup it is actually very cool and creamy. Yum -- wish I had some now. Then there are the desserts --- oh my!

Ruby Lena's is a special treat any day. For a break from the noisy chain restaurants, this is the place to go in Branson. They are open from 11:00 a.m to 3:00 pm, a perfect break in a busy day.

I can't provide a link to a website since they don't have one yet, but a Google search of tea rooms in Branson MO brings up many references.

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