Photo Credit: Whitley Carpenter
Square One Fish Co.
DÉJÀ VU: When I first wrote about Square One Fish Co. (1298 Prince Ave., 706-353-8862), 10 years ago, it was on Thomas Street downtown, where the Hyatt Place now sits. What I said boiled down to, “If you figure what to order, you’ll have a very nice meal,” and that holds true. The same folks are running the place, so it’s no surprise. They spent a few months ripping out most of the inside of the P&M Army Store in Normaltown, painting a giant blue octopus across its facade and creating a fairly nice interior. There are some captain’s chairs scattered around, but mostly, it doesn’t read like a seafood shack, and the menu prices are on par with a swankier type of restaurant. You can expect to pay in the ballpark of $30 for an entree, just like at Chuck’s Fish, and if you plan on getting some appetizers and some drinks, it is not an inexpensive evening.
Some things are worth the price. Others are less so. The “tuna four ways,” which comes on an octagonal mirror—shades of Vegas—is fairly underwhelming, elaborate presentation aside, given that the four ways (sesame-crusted, poké, blackened and citrus seared) aren’t all that different in the execution. The whole yellowtail snapper escabeche is better, topped with a whole mess of spicy pickled vegetables. It will, however, stare you in the eye, which you may not like. Pickley stuff is a common thread and a strength, appearing as a garnish on many things.
The charcuterie board has some nice stuff on it, but none of it seems made in house: fat sticks of lox; small, thin-shaved tangles of bresaola, prosciutto and speck (the latter is the best); slices of duck; some cheeses; and a jam. It’s a fun way to eat, but the one at The Expat is better. Fried smelts, under the appetizer section, are a delightful snack, very lightly breaded and well seasoned. You can add malt vinegar if you want, but they’re so delicate that you really shouldn’t. The smoked fish dip, made with wahoo, mahi mahi and amberjack, is possibly the best thing on the menu, served with buttered, herby toast points that are both quite bad for you and quite tasty.
The bar has a good selection of beer and some cocktails, one of which includes Figment kombucha. The restaurant is open for dinner from 4:30 p.m. daily and does happy hour, including food specials, from 4–6 p.m. weekdays.
DÉJÀ VU: The building at 1660 W. Broad St. that has been a vegan restaurant, an ice cream spot, a hot doggery, several barbecue places, a fried fish joint and a cafe concentrating on preserved foods is a vegan restaurant once more, with the opening of Eden’s Cafe (706-850-8501), which bills itself as a plant-based grab-and-go. The hamburger mural is still there by the outside seating, but they now refer to it as a veggie burger, and the boat from the previous tenant also remains.
Maybe grab-and-go is the right move for a space with such a small eating area (a few chairs, some outside benches). Eden’s Cafe doesn’t have a huge selection, but what it has is fresh, carefully made and ethical, down to the compostable wrapping on the sandwiches. Everything except the soup of the day and the hot drinks is in a cooler, but there’s a panini press available, should you prefer your tempeh banh mi warmed up.
The falafel can be had better elsewhere in town, but the kitchen does a nice job with sauces. That banh mi is dressed with a sriracha maple aioli (made with veganaise), and the lemon tahini sauce that comes with the falafel and tabouli is pretty delightful. The Buddha noodles (Thai peanut rice noodles with squash zoodles, cucumber, greens and a Szechuan chili oil) aren’t as good as they could be, partially because spiralized “noodles” are pretty much always disappointing, but the Plant Power sandwich (slices of roasted sweet potato, avocado, wonderful pickles, kale and black bean hummus on hearty multigrain bread) is really well crafted. Some of it is mushy, but there’s stuff that resists your teeth, as well, and the pickles counteract the vegetal sweetness of the other ingredients. There is a good hummus plate, too, with roasted garlic, sun-dried tomato and spinach varieties (in order of preference) alongside the black bean.
Eden’s Cafe does coffee and tea and has kombucha on tap, but there are also cold drinks in the cooler. Desserts, including a tofu-based chocolate silk pie (good filling, less good crust) and a nice turmeric-ginger cookie, and savory baked goods (some scones that could use a bit longer in the oven) are on the counter. Everyone is as pleasant as they can be. The prices may seem a little steeper than you’d wish, but many ingredients are locally sourced, and good vegetables ain’t cheap. The restaurant is open 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday (closed Monday). It does not serve alcohol.