Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mayberry Serves a RFD* Menu at a Downtown Address

      Mayberry has been open for a little over two years now and after hearing all of the accolades, I have been on Eric to go there for lunch for quite some time.  He went shortly after they opened and wasn’t totally pleased.  I kept pressing and he finally agreed to a second visit.   

The Vine Street Entrance
      The outside is inviting…sort of a turn-of-the-last century tearoom.  The inside is more like a small 1980’s Greyhound bus station lunchroom.  Pared down furnishings and communal seating are not my idea of cozy and welcoming and didn’t exactly complement what appeared to be an inspired menu with new takes on old favorites.  It wasn’t a place that I wanted to settle into for a comfortable, conversation-filled dining experience.  But that’s obviously not what they’re going for.  Instead, it’s more of a fast turn over lunch counter space for downtown workers.

       The menu was traditional fare with minor modifications for each offering (i.e. leek fondue and onion jam) that made them sound a little more interesting without being too
far from their original roots.  I had my eye on The Jive Turkey.  A side of the Tater Tot Casserole would complete my curiosities.  Beverages are free with a lunch purchase for added value.  Eric had the Vegetable Orzo Soup of the Day and the BLT.  

Vegetable Orzo Soup

The soup was disappointing.  Not only was it lacking in vegetables (the only ones we found were zucchini and celery), there was not much flavor or seasoning either.  It was, however, a generous bowl.  Something that would have been a plus if the soup was actually enjoyable.  The sandwiches were both sourdough Panini and served with a mixed green salad and house dressing.  

The Jive Turkey
My turkey was moist and the addition of apricot mustard, pickled red onion, and Havarti complemented the meat.  


Eric’s BLT had thickly sliced pepper bacon with lots of flavor while the addition of smoked gouda and leek fondue and roasted tomato compote elevated the basic sandwich, though arugula and cherry tomatoes would have been fine with the meat and cheese.  The green salad was exactly that and nothing more.  

Tater Tot Casserole

My tater tot casserole wasn’t what I anticipated, but did not disappoint.  The tater tots were minced up and appeared more like cooked rice in the dish.  Lots of cheese and a baked top added the crunchiness it needed.  Service was friendly and efficient with one server handling the small dining space.  

      So what brings so many kudos and phenomenal success to Mayberry?  For us, there wasn’t much charm or ambience and I wouldn’t include it on a top list of hot dining spots not to be missed. The location definitely adds to its coup.  It’s prime to the courts, OTR theaters, the northern edge of downtown, and Kroger headquarters.  That’s enough to give any restaurant a nudge.  We found the menu OK, but nothing to write home to Aunt Bea about.  Mayberry is currently open for dinner (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) when small plates that sound adventurous are featured, but if I’m going to pay for that type of creativity then I want the surroundings to be pleasant and top notch also.  Its older sister (the World Food Bar at Findlay Market) and newer cousin (Skinny Pig at DeSales Corner) are both more inspiring with appropriate surroundings and, in our opinion, serving better food.  All are under the direction of Chef Joshua Campbell.  But, for most people it’s comfort food with a little twist and that’s enough to keep them coming back for more.

*Rural Food Dish

Mayberry on Urbanspoon

I guess Andy and Opie had gone fishing for the day.

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