After the usual long wait that comes with restaurant openings, Seven Mile Cafe opened late last week in Old Town Keller. It’s the third in a mini-chain that has locations in Denton and Highland Village.
As reported by the Star-Telegram’s Mark David Smith in June, the cafe is in the former Keller City Hall space at 110 W. Vine St., a street that, on our first visit, was torn up by construction. There is parking a couple of blocks away on Taylor Street to the north and Bates Street to the south. The Vine Street entrance is open, but there is also a Main Street entrance that, for the time being, is more easily accessible.
The “Seven Mile” in the name is a reference to Seven Mile Beach in the Grand Cayman Islands. The restaurant specializes in breakfast dishes with some lunch dishes as well. Owner Kevin Klingele told Smith in June that he wanted it to be “more hip and forward-thinking than most breakfast places.”
We stopped by for a first bite.
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The vibe: Friendly and mellow. The restaurant, which announced its opening on Facebook, is larger than we expected, and it was uncrowded during our 9:30 a.m. visit.
Klingele told the Star-Telegram in the summer that renovations included turning a “hodgepodge of a lot of different rooms” into an open-room restaurant. Seven Mile intended to save some of the original brick and ceiling to “keep the Old Town feel but modernize the building.”
Mission accomplished: You’d never know that this long, hardwood-floored restaurant, which has a continuous dining room and a large coffee bar, had once been a hodgepodge of anything. A couple of musically oriented pieces of art hang near the Main Street entrance, and there’s a mural featuring Keller’s landmark water tower.
Staff was friendly and conversational without being intrusive. The music was Christmas music via the new Star 102.1 FM (aka the former 102.1 “The Edge”), and while it wasn’t all to our tastes, the music and the volume fit Seven Mile’s atmosphere. Hopefully they’ll keep it mellow once Christmas is over.
The food: The menu is divided among “fresh starts” (steel-cut oatmeal, various bowls and smoothies), “specialty pancakes” (yes, you can get some straight or with fruit, but you can also go desserty with the “S’moreo” or the peanut-butter cup), “French toast creations” (fewer options, still leaning sweet), Belgian waffles (ditto), a half-dozen or so Benedicts, and “Cafe Favorites” (migas, huevos ranchero, biscuit dishes, chicken and waffles, etc.).
There was a time when I would not have been able to stay away from the sweet side of the menu, but in this case I behaved myself — relatively speaking — and ordered the biscuits and gravy platter ($11). The menu isn’t kidding when it calls the two buttermilk biscuits large, and they were about perfect in their slightly crusty, mostly doughy (in a good way) texture. The sausage gravy had subtle spiciness and pleasing meatiness. Accompanying hash browns were good, as were the two over-easy eggs, but the plate is filling enough without the egg side.
Seven Mile probably has the most vegetarian/vegan-friendly menu in Keller, and my wife checked it out with the chipotle tofu Benny ($11). In this vegan dish, tofu takes the place of eggs, medallions of sourdough toast sub for the English muffins, and a spicy chipotle sauce replaces the hollandaise. A couple of slices of avocado rounded it out.
Since she’s vegetarian, not vegan, my wife will eat eggs, but she didn’t miss them here: The avocado was fresh, the tofu held its texture, and the chipotle sauce provided some kick. There is also a house-made hot sauce that she liked, although she said it’s not necessary to add to this Benedict.
A couple of weeks ago, I did a chain-restaurant breakfast crawl in which few of the restaurants I visited seemed familiar with the concept of continual coffee refills. But Seven Mile’s “bottomless” cup of house coffee ($3.50) always had coffee in it — until I got to the point where I’d had enough, which doesn’t happen to me very often. Seven Mile’s staff seems to understand that in Texas, refills mean refills, not just a second cup.
My wife had the signature Seven Mile latte ($5), a large mug given just a hint of sweetness with some vanilla. She is not ordinarily a fan of sweetened coffee drinks but this one had a light touch that she enjoyed.
I didn’t entirely stay away from the sweet side of the menu — we split a vegan cinnamon roll ($3), which was served warm, with the icing melting appealingly. Good, although it will not take me away from my love of the cinnamon rolls at Ginger Brown’s in Lake Worth.
The verdict: We’re already planning to go back. The menu isn’t huge, but there are enough intriguing options on it to make us curious about trying something else, whether it’s savory or sweet. There will come a time when I will crave those “S’moreo” pancakes.