Out of the Blue Cafe and Kites on Brainerd Road would seem to have two missions: It's the go-to place for quality kites as well as delicious food.
More than a decade ago, the kite store/restaurant, owned by Doug and Peggy Roselle, opened to rave reviews.
"Our mission is to provide excellent, fresh food and quality kites in a unique family atmosphere," the menu notes. And they do.
I have been to Out of the Blue dozens of times since it opened. Though the purpose of my visit is always food, I have purchased a few kites in the last few years. Still, it's the food that gets me in the door.
IF YOU GO
What: Out of the Blue Cafe and Kites.
Where: 3230 Brainerd Road.
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday and Saturday.
Price range: $6 (Vegetarian Pasta Salad)- $7.50 (Crispy Chicken Salad).
Dishes range from a vegetarian pasta salad ($6) to a Santa Fe taco salad ($7.50).
The restaurant takes pride in recipes made daily on-site using fresh ingredients. Its signature dishes include spinach-and-Swiss or ham-and-cheese quiche served with green salad and bread ($7); a salad sampler that pairs chicken salad and pasta salad on mixed greens with fruit and bread ($7.25); and the traditional sampler of quiche, chicken salad and pasta salad on mixed greens with fruit and bread ($7.25).
Another signature dish is the homemade chicken salad, a secret recipe of all-white-meat chicken salad served on baby greens with fresh fruit ($7). My favorite way to order the chicken salad is on a croissant ($7.25). The mixture comes on a large, fresh croissant, capped with the standard sandwich toppers, lettuce and tomato.
All sandwiches also come with a choice of fruit, chips, pasta salad or a green salad. Other bread choices are a fresh-baked white roll and sourdough. Tortilla wraps are also available.
Sandwich choices include the usual -- turkey, ham, roast beef, cheese, pimento cheese -- as well as more complicated blends -- broiled cheese, club and California club. The menu offers particular pairings, such as broiled cheese on a croissant or the California club (which has avocados and sprouts) on multigrain toast, but substitutions shouldn't be a problem.
The kids menu includes peanut butter and jelly, turkey or ham sandwiches, served with grapes or chips ($4).
The soup menu features the house special -- tomato soup with roasted garlic and dill, and a soup of the day ($4.50 per bowl, $3.50 per cup, $3 as an add-on with sandwich or entree).
Diners can order a soup and salad or a soup and sandwich combination for $7.
Specialty salads include Sweet and Crunchy Spinach, Mediterranean Garden and Santa Fe Taco salad.
Drinks include the restaurant's popular raspberry tea (I highly recommend it), sweet and unsweetened tea, soft drinks, juices and coffee.
The dessert menu offers freshly baked cookies, cakes and pies.
Typically, service is good, whether eating in or taking out, and the staff is friendly.
On just one occasion, though, I did have to wait nearly 30 minutes to get my takeout order. With just half of the tables occupied, a large private party in the banquet room demanded most of the staff's attention. I was told about the projected delay as soon as I approached the counter, but since I was already there, I decided to wait it out. The management was apologetic. My lesson? Call ahead if you're pressed for time.
The restaurant takes large orders two days ahead and meals to go (such as a whole quiche, soup by the quart and family-size salads) 24 hours before pickup time.
One spacious corner of the room houses the kite display. It's a perfect spot for diners to look around while they're waiting to be served. Tables are spaced comfortably around the restaurant so that when you're dining, you don't have to hear the conversation of the diners next to you.
I have never been disappointed with my food at Out of the Blue Cafe. It's always fresh and delicious.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...