Save room for dessert

W hen I finally arrived in Spanish Springs, 25 minutes after leaving my studio apartment in downtown Reno, the Aspen Glen Fountain & Grill’s pink neon sign lured me in through the rain.

The restaurant is nestled in the center of the newly developed Spanish Springs community. It opened for business in the Aspen Shopping Center less than three weeks ago.

The first thing I noticed as I entered the brightly lit dining room was the chocolate. Seated in an algae-green booth, two boys sat with their mother devouring rich chocolate ice cream.

The dining room at Aspen Glen is filled with about 10 tables, four big booths and a counter with 12 stools. I was greeted a few minutes after I arrived. A waitress sat me at one of the booths, handed me a menu, then left. When she returned, she took my drink order and asked if I was ready to order my meal.

The menu offers hot deli sandwiches, and the meat is sliced fresh for each order. For $5.95, you have a choice of pastrami, corned beef, roast turkey or baked ham. Cheese is 50 cents extra. The restaurant has seven types of bread to choose from. Aspen Glen serves a BLT ($3.95), a French dip ($5.25) and even a veggie sandwich ($4.50). The rest of the grill’s menu is composed of typical family-style restaurant sandwiches and a full range of gourmet burgers, homemade soups and salads.

I settled on the Cajun burger ($5.25). As I waited for my food, I watched the family in the next booth scrape the bottom of their dishes, savoring the last bit of Aspen Glen’s homemade ice cream. The waitress brought my burger five minutes later, but after studying the faces of these boys and their mom as they licked their spoons, all I could think about was tasting that ice cream.

My burger was thick, lightly seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with melted pepper jack cheese. I asked for no tomato. But on the sesame bun, fresh red onions, crisp lettuce, a pickle and a juicy, thick slice of tomato were piled to the edges of the bread.

I love spicy food. I expected the flavor of the burger to have more of that Cajun flair, but I could barely taste the spices. Everything tasted fresh and the burger was good, but it was not what I expected from the description on the menu. The fries were plentiful and tasty.

I wanted to check out the restaurant’s homemade soups, so I ordered a cup of chicken noodle ($1.95). A generous cup of steaming soup, topped with several thinly sliced pieces of chicken, was served with crackers and toasted bread. There was plenty of chicken, but the soup was a bit bland.

I saved room so I could indulge in dessert, and ordered a dish of chocolate-mint ice cream. Aspen Glen features 51 flavors of homemade ice cream. Rich and creamy, this is the specialty of the Aspen Glen Fountain & Grill. The servings are large. Banana splits, along with all the other traditional ice cream delights, are offered on their dessert list.

The restaurant needs to improve on the quality of their food, at least their burgers and soups. The service was friendly and competent. The ice cream, however, was a real treat.