Guenther House: Currier & Ives in the Alamo City

Anyone even the least bit susceptible to the devious charms of the Christmas season, and that includes more of us than might be willing to admit, should just give in and get thee over to the Guenther House in King William. The house itself, completed in 1860, has sufficient Victorian vibes to do the job all on its own, but for the season, it has been decorated to a fare-thee-well. The parlor, beveled glass windows, stately gold-leafed mirrors, virgin pine floors and all, boasts a tree of trees, and in the foyer the staff has assembled a replica of the house, gingerbread style, in candies — including transparent sheets serving as windows, the better to showcase the illuminated interior. It’s enough to thaw the heart of the most egregiously Grinchy.

And then there’s the prospect of food while you’re there — maybe not lunch, as that menu doesn’t really inspire, but breakfast for sure: it’s served all day in any event. Even those who normally and steadfastly resist the siren song of stacks of pancakes dripping in syrup and waffles topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream may find themselves happily indulging at this time of year. (Breakfast tacos are another option; sides include bacon and sausage patties.) There’s something about the cool green dining room with its handsome mosaic floors, exotic light fixtures, and details recalling the miller’s art (the house is in the shadow of Pioneer Flour Mills, after all) that simply suggests forgetting the era of Facebook and getting some good face time with a brace of buttermilk biscuits shamelessly slathered in sausage-studded country gravy.

These biscuits, fluffy as advertised, are nevertheless dauntingly large enough to make them hard to finish without sides of any kind to complicate the issue. The reasonable person might add, if anything, a fruit plate. But no: seasoned, fried breakfast potatoes exerted a near-magnetic pull. They were good, too. And, without getting all Starbucksy, so was the Guatemalan estate-grown coffee (promise you won’t order a flavored version, however). Ground coffee is available by the bag, along with mixes for the biscuits, the pancakes, the waffles, and the gravy, upstairs in the gift shop. You gotta go; it’s part of the total experience.

My biscuit cutters come from there, for example, and they have proved useful over the years. True, I don’t find myself in desperate need of a bacon-frying weight in the shape of a pig, nor do I yearn for a pancake mold in the shape of the Alamo. But there are enough books of historical and culinary interest to make browsing worthwhile. And you might come away with some peach pecan butter or Texas wildflower honey. Then, on the way out, there is always the pastry counter back downstairs at the entry to the dining room. Even if you tried hard not to look when you arrived, could be that you need something to take home for tomorrow’s breakfast when the biscuits and gravy have become only a memory. Or not.

Guenther House

205 E. Guenther St.

(800) 235-8186

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