Sloppy sandwiches, slurpy soups and sumptuous sweets

I'm sure you've noticed this cute little stand dozens of times as you travel the main street of tiny downtown Carlsborg.

Gabby's whimsical architecture exhibits an imaginative sense of style. If the red brick, stone and a zany pattern of shingles doesn't catch your eye, the yard art will. It makes sense to see sculpture of the "cult of coffee," but an art piece of a soaring life-sized stingray stops you in your tracks.

I got the chance to pet a live stingray once - he felt just like velvet. But I digress. And, you know, I'm really good at that - going off on tangents. Boy, if I only had a penny ...

STOP IT! Shelley, keep to the point!

Ahem. The beautiful sculpture was a gift from the same artist who created the elk that welcome travelers on U.S. Highway 101 to Sequim.

Actually there are two buildings on the site. One is the drive-through, the other is where they create all the magic. Since I rarely cook if I get the chance, seeing food appear on a plate is definitely a form of magic to me.

Gabby's Java & Gourmet Grub has been serving up breakfast, lunch and, yes, even dinner since Halloween 2003.

On a nice sunny day you can park your bike, sit under the porch or picnic on their patch of lawn. The porch has a heater lamp for those times when the sun dips behind the clouds.

Obviously, they want you to enjoy your meal to the utmost.

The eatery was named after the father of the owner, a Marine and stand-up comedian who entertained the troops during World War II.

Gabby's son and his wife run the place. He's the chef, she's the lady in the window.

At Gabby's you feel like you're among family. Where else can you get away with this? I ordered my meal for this review and decided to park nearby to enjoy my lunch in solitude. It wasn't until I went back to ask some questions that I realized I drove off and didn't pay! Evidently I'm not the first to do this - they have an IOU list for people like me.

Their flyer says, "(they) love what they do, and (they) do it with love." And it shows. My sandwich was inside a precisely folded wrapper in silvery paper. I felt like I was opening a Christmas present.

A plaque inside the hut reads, "We don't serve fast food, we serve great food as fast as we can."

Gabby's makes nearly everything on site. From the "Off Gabby's Grill" menu section, my husband Greg's fav, the Philly cheese steak sandwich, is made of hand-cut top round from Sunny Farms and piled with cheese, peppers and onion.

Also from Gabby's Grill are gyros, pulled pork on a Kaiser roll, chicken pita, homemade lasagna and a BBQ meatloaf sandwich from Auntie's family recipe. This winter keep that menu item in mind.

All sandwiches are handed to you in a brown paper bag. Inside is a pickle, a bag of chips and an "after dinner" mint. If you're the fastidious type, you'll appreciate the moist towelette at the bottom of the bag.

And you'll need that little towelette. The other day I treated my girlfriend to lunch. Our sandwiches were bigger than our hands could hold. The warm chicken pita piled with lettuce, cheddar, tomato, purple onion and sauce was a hit with my friend. How do I know? I heard a symphony of "mmmm" sounds.

On the cold side of the menu, there's a tempting Italian sandwich on sourdough bread with pastrami, salami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, purple onion and vinegar and oil.

Their veggie wrap comes on a tomato basil tortilla filled with tofu, lettuce, tomato, purple onion, avocado, English cucumber, sprouts and carrots.

On my most recent visit, I concocted my own turkey sandwich. I'm boring and bland so I won't take up the space here to describe it. But you have your choice of breads including dill rye. In addition to pastrami, salami and turkey, there's also ham as well as cheese, of course, and veggies.

On Fridays there is clam chowder - self described by the owner as "nectar of the gods." But there are daily soup specials too like Portuguese, jalapeño, corn chowder, cream of tomato and minestrone. And daily salad specials as well.

When it comes to java, they make it all, hot or cold. There are Italian sodas and fruit smoothies in flavors of mango, peach, strawberry banana and wildberry. Hot chocolate sounds especially good on a cold wintry day.

Breakfast is served until 10:30 a.m. Does biscuits and gravy sound good? How about their breakfast sandwich made with Texas toast (aka egg bread), cheddar cheese, egg and your choice of ham, bacon or sausage? The BORU Breakfast will get your mouth watering and is definitely for those requiring a big start to their day: two eggs, potatoes, ham, onions, peppers and cheese - all topped off with Hollandaise sauce.

Now let's talk sweets.

I love a good sweet roll. I found one. Covered in gooey icing and juicy with butter. "Mama" Velma's homemade cinnamon rolls and Velma's homemade (from her own recipe) orange rolls are on the breakfast menu too. But don't let that stop you from rollin' through on your way home. On any given day they have cake turtle brownies, puddin' pie and bread pudding in flavors - sometimes cranberry or blueberry with English toffee.

My favorite though is their just-like-mama-used-to-make lemon bars. Well, mine never made 'em, but if she did, this is just how they would taste.

And there's nothing better than when something tastes just like you hoped it would.



471 Business Park Loop



683-1471 fax

Winter Hours

M-F 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sat 7 a.m.-4 p.m.

Price rating:

$ very inexpensive

$$ expensive

$$$ pricey

$$$$ expensive

Gabby's: $

Shelley Taylor and her husband relocated to the peninsula from California and are active in property tax reform issues. By her own admission, Taylor likes to eat.

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