Elysian's Elliegail's

In Elysian, a small town on Highway 60, there is a small eatery that is a typical rural restaurant. It's small, and caters to locals and road-trippers alike. It's fare mostly consists of breakfast food and sandwiches. The owner and lead cook is Dawn, who named the restaurant after her two daughters - Abigail and Ellie. The girls often help in both the kitchen and the dining room, so it's a real family affair.

I always love stopping in not so much for the food, which is fine but it's exactly what you will find at every other country restaurant, but because of it's atmosphere. The entrance of the store is a mercantile, which I always love. They're such a staple of rural America. The last time I stopped in was when the mercantile was in full autumnal swing. It was my first autumn in America in five years, and I was so happy to arrive and see various squashes and wheat stalks flanking the door. If there is one thing America does better than everyone else, it's autumn. The harvest decor, the scented candles, the spices, and the general red and orange hue that settles over the country is something I had very much missed in the five years I was away.

The mercantile itself sells various spices, jams, home decor, and homemade scented goat's milk soap (Dawn owns a goat farm as well as the restaurant). Again, it's very "rural America in the early 20th century" farmhouse vibe.

Head on past the wares and you will see the food counter. Dawn is renowned in the area for her baking skills, and because it is a small, family-owned restaurant, the baked goods available on each given day vary widely. Her caramel rolls and ginger cookies are especially amazing in my humble opinion. But especially with the rolls, you've got to get there early in the day in order to snag one! They're quite popular.

After you have ordered, you make your way into the dining area. This is the real treat which makes Elliegail's stand out from similar eateries - the dining room is housed in a former one-room schoolhouse! The photographs on the wall reflect the rolling hills of southern Minnesota and the animals that live there, and it's quite a lovely vibe in which to enjoy a sandwich. As you wait for your meal to arrive, it's fun to imagine the schoolhouse being used as such - it's easy to see where a blackboard would have been, or where desks would have been arranged. The old entrance hall is still in use, which makes the schoolhouse even more apparent. It's a great way to spend a lunch if you find yourself in the area!