Perhaps it’s the transition into fall and the longing for cooler weather that’s sparked a sentimental chord, but this month, we’re focusing on dining spots that all evoke the same thing at their core: a taste of home.
If you find yourself looking for a warm, home-cooked type of meal, you can’t go wrong with any of our Where to Eat picks for October.
Hardly reminiscent of the greasy old pits you find on along the highway, 24 Diner is a bright and sunshiny locale giving a warmhearted nod to classic, homestyle American dishes — for breakfast, lunch and dinner — with a modern twist and a deep commitment to fresh, local foods.
Say the name of this place around a group of friends and you’ll immediately elicit a list of favorite dishes. “The mussels!” “No, the bacon, avocado burger is the best.” “My favorite is the chicken and mashed potatoes.” If you ask me, it’s the fried egg sandwich with bacon on a slightly sweet pain au lait bun that says it all. The truth is, it’s all good. And it’s all done in the spirit of home.
Even more of a treat is taking advantage of the special dinners chef Andrew Curren and his wife Mary Catherine host periodically throughout the year, where the two concoct a menu drawing on other influences in their culinary history. Take for instance a recent Monday five-course meal paired with beers from California-based Lagunitas Brewing Company where Curren prepared a Mexican-inspired menu that included seared octopus and red-snapper ceviche and a rich and earthy chicken mole served with crispy fried corn cakes.
Mary Catherine worked her magic with a fruity apricot-guajillo chile flan reminding the packed house that at 24 Diner, there’s a lot more to home cooking than just classic American cuisine.
Those who fell in love with the hearty, and somewhat gamey, homestyle cooking of Chef James Holmes will soon be able to welcome some of his signature dishes back to the Olivia menu.
For someone who lives south of the river, Komé isn't exactly in my neighborhood, but sometimes the best things in life are those that require a little effort. And in truth, it's a solid place for good, traditional style sushi. This little Airport Blvd. restaurant is the creation of Takehiro and Kayo Asazu, two native Japanese ex-pats who longed for the comfort of homestyle traditional Japanese food. More than that, they wanted to open their warm memories of home into a public dining room for all to enjoy.
The Komé Viché, a ceviche including madai (Japanese bream), salmon and mango is vibrant and fresh, the tempura is light and flaky. The camembert cheese tempura served with honey is more for those craving something rich and decadent. And for lunch on a cool fall day, you can't beat a warming bowl of ramen — I like the miso ramen with tender pork and greens the best.
Olivia chef/owner James Holmes is back in the kitchen of his first restaurant after making sure his second concept, Lucy’s Fried Chicken, was up and running. What may be a bittersweet exit for chef Andrew Francisco whose refined skill wowed Olivia regulars (and will likely do the same when he opens Mettle with Bridget Dunlap), those who fell in love with the hearty, and somewhat gamey, homestyle cooking of Holmes will soon be able to welcome some of his signature dishes back to the menu.
Items such as goat “fries” make their return as does a rotation of Holmes’ favorite recipes for mussels. As for brunch, we can still look forward to such Sunday favorites as house-cured salmon with pumpernickel and all the fixin's or the creamy Southern classic of shrimp and grits made with gouda cheese.
Olivia may have been in more than capable hands with Chef Francisco, but with Holmes back in the saddle, the only appropriate thing to say is, “Welcome home, chef.”