My friends said, "Let's get together for lunch. There's a new place on Chase Street."
I'm all up for new places to eat. It's so exciting to see what they will offer and how it will measure up. This new place is the , at the corner of Chase and Boulevard, in a former gas station. (They have a great sign.)
I admire and appreciate people who recycle existing buildings for new purposes--I am sure it can be challenging or nearly impossible. This small restaurant aims to become a neighborhood hangout, a place for friendly relaxed meals. I saw several people I knew there. It was crowded with people wanting to try "the new place," so it was hard to find a parking spot and hard to find a table, although there were seats at the bar.
The tables and chairs are too close together and not very comfortable. Although I love the modern, industrial decor--I think it suits a place that used to be a gas station--it is, like many other places, too noisy! The service is good, not great, although the staff is very pleasant. We had to wait a while and our drinks were not refilled. Perhaps some of them are new to waiting on table.
Of course, the menu, which is interesting, changes, as befits a restaurant using local food. I am not a fan of arugula, but almost every dish had it when I was there. That is probably because that's what is available this time of year. The gazpacho was wonderful; it was very chunky, almost like salsa you eat with a spoon.
I had the chicken salad (with Bibb lettuce, not arugula) on a croissant, which was very good, but somewhat predictable. The sandwiches, including a hamburger, come with chips, or you can choose from interesting sides, such as couscous with veggies, for $2 more. I had roasted veggies with my sandwich, and they were mainly eggplant--good eggplant, but I would have preferred more variety.
There were also pimiento cheese and other vegetarian options. One of my friends has some dietary challenges, but the staff at Heirloom Cafe was very accommodating. We were pretty full and did not have dessert, but there were some tempting pastries in the case to choose from.
It was a little more than I like to pay for lunch: $16. I understand it costs more to use local ingredients, and I'm okay with that. But I hope the food will get just a little more exciting as they find their footing in the Athens restaurant scene.
Heirloom Cafe summary:
Good atmosphere, good service, very good foodbreakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch; beer (more than 20 choices) and wine
Southern local food, relaxed atmosphere, patio (may be nice in the fall, but not in use much now)
Patty's picks: gazpacho, burger, couscous salad.