Published on April 15, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

Nestled between two landmarks near my condo, Dos Tacquitos and Hardees, lies Relish. A quaint place with a full yet casual patio that is great for any girls night out, or happy hour rendezvous, but it has a name (Relish) that makes me think of overpriced finger foods. So why did I go to this place? Girlfriend’s request. When she mentioned it, I originally said that I won’t go because I don’t want a sandwich or a salad for dinner (even if it comes with my choice of pickle), which is all I expected from a place called “Relish”.

Walking in and sitting down, I was not sure what to expect, other than the most expensive sandwich I’ve ever had. The clientele was a range of younger to older professionals and the occasional family. I am getting better at trying not to judge a restaurant by the wood they use, or at least I’m getting better at not wanting to leave because the wait staff is in a tie. For a what I thought was a sandwich place, Relish is as classy as it comes, however, nothing hinted at fine or even formal dining, so I didn’t feel out of place in a nice t-shirt and some shorts. It was about the time that my sweet tea came to the table in a mason jar that my guard went down, and by the time that I saw they have mac and cheese skillets on the menu AND tables with adults were ordering them, I really loosened up.

First came the appetizer, which was deep-fried, black-eyed peas. This was my girlfriend’s call and they tasted like the grease you smell at the state fair, but I felt healthy eating them. They were not great, definitely worth trying, but not worth ordering twice. Personally, I think they could have used a little more flavor, a few more pieces of pepper or onion wold have gone a long way. Still, they were enjoyable.

For my entree I got the fish tacos and they truly were tasty, they had a delicious slaw on them that gave the tacos some weight and the salsa that I ordered brought a great zest to the meal. Yet again, not ground breaking, but definitely good and this is a dish that chefs would says has very clean flavors and I agree. I ordered the tacos with a side salad, that was bigger than I could have imagined and I was STUNNED when I left the restaurant so full that I wanted to go for a walk.

My girlfriend ordered the shrimp and grits and they were par for the course. Nothing I couldn’t get at any other self respecting restaurant. We both agreed that my tacos were better and that we would order different items next time.

Our second trip was definitely a wake up call. My girlfriend got a Reuban and it was very close to being a bad reuban. It is definitely a sandwich that I would never recommend, but I cannot say that it is bad. This is another sandwich that suffers from having two times the bread to the filling and that’s a big no-no for me.

On this second visit, I ordered the Chicken-Fried Steak with Mash and Green Beans; this is the meal that got away from me the first time around, and I was not going to let it happen again. My plate was a very satisfying size, but the biggest disappointment for me was the gravy. I am a proud southerner who cooks using my grandmother’s recipes and scouring recipe blogs when I must. I have made gravy many times and many ways, and when I was first getting started in cooking, I did use some canned and powdered gravy starters; the gravy at Relish could take a lesson from them. To be fair, I am a gravy snob, but I can say with a full heart that the gravy I had, had NO flavor. I never salt or pepper my food once it comes to the table, but in this case, I HAD to. The steak was well cooked, I wanted to send the green beans back, I honestly don’t think they left the kitchen season, and the mashed potatoes had a good texture, but we had flavor problems again.

In terms of overall experience, I did really enjoy this place and it’s definitely a great place to take weight or health conscious friends. The prices are reasonable, and the portions are good. So I recommend.

Taste/Variety = mid-high
Portions = impressive
Price = mid-high (a few bucks more than Panera)
Service = low (our waiter sucked both times)
Atmosphere = highbrow, country chic
Total Value = mid-high

I was disappointed in Relish’s Shrimp and Grits, so my friend Torre recommended his Pepper Roasted Shrimp and Grits recipe, so I thought I would share. Hope you enjoy!

Relish Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon