The folks you know as the friendly vendors of fresh regional produce and flowers are now the go-to downtown location for hot, scratch-made meat-n-three lunches. It's not fancy - plastic plates and self-serve beverages make this feel like a picnic - but the wholesome food disguises any hint of casualness. I landed on a day when it was tough making a choice, but I ultimately went with a doses of comfort food: tender and nicely seasoned roast beef, smashed potatoes with chunks of earthy, tasty potato, sweetly glazed fresh carrots and a summer-fresh half tomato topped with a baked crust of savory herbs and parmigiano cheese. Fresh, hot cobbler showcasing Georgia peaches reminded me of my grandmother's recipe.
Selections change day-to-day and sandwiches are also available. There is an eclectic array of tables and chairs for eating in, or eating in the garden - but lots of busy downtowners I saw were happily carrying away foam clam shells packed full of food. Oh, lunch, with dessert and a jumbo sweet tea: $8!
530 E. Liberty St./238-3032
Frankly, it had been some time since I wrote about Garibaldi's - and that review was not one they proudly laminated and hung in the dining room. But this kitchen is filled with talent. Chef Gerald has been there for decades, Garibaldi corporate Chef Danny Kim, a frequent visitor, is near legendary and Chef Seth, a former sous chef at Alligator Soul, handles the classics with quiet, focused execution. I dropped in Saturday night and began with a classic Caesar salad, resplendent with salty anchovies and seasoned, crunchy house-made croutons. It was fresh, nicely portioned and a palate teaser before the main course. Red Snapper was fresh off the boat that day, I enjoyed mine pan-sauteed atop a generous serving of root vegetable risotto. The risotto was moist, slightly creamy and filled with the comforting little bites of finely diced root veggies. A third layer of baby arugula tossed lightly in vinaigrette added acidity that helped cleanse the palate between bites - I didn't want to miss a single flavor in this beautiful dish. Service was perfectly attentive and my server was well-acquainted with the menu. I returned for a wine dinner less than a week later and can honestly say that every course was prepared perfectly, the pairings matched beautifully and the food paid homage to the wines' source - Tuscany. Of special note was the Steak Florentine with roasted baby veggies - and Porcini mushroom risotto drizzled with Chianti reduction. Bravo!
315 W. Congress St./232-7118
Bits and Pieces
Thrive, A Carryout Cafe, Whitemarsh Island, has added staff to include Carrie Climer (formerly pastry chef of Local 11 Ten), and Linda Gerbert (formerly of Brighter Day and knowledgeable in nutrition and herbs). Susan Ridley, co-owner of Hendry Wines, will be on hand Tuesday, Nov. 3, for a paired dinner at EOS. 6:30 p.m.. $65pp ++, Eos, 1801 Habersham St. Call for reservations, 238-2400.