Have I been exploring and eating in restaurants and doing my usual thing? Hell no, I haven’t, and I miss it dearly. Doing so right now would be irresponsible and selfish. It’s not that I don’t trust the people who work in restaurants. It’s that I don’t trust my fellow diners, even outside. So, what is one to do?
Well, here’s one thing that can be done that will make both your belly and your mouth happy, support a small business and keep everyone pretty darn safe: Place an order from Ceylon Snack Hut, a sweet little Sri Lankan food preparation business that operates through the West Broad Farmers Market. Online ordering through wbfm.locallygrown.net opens up on Sunday afternoon and runs through Thursday. Then on Saturday, between 11:30 a.m.—1:30 p.m., you drive over to the Athens Housing Authority at 300 N. Rocksprings St. and follow the signs for the one-way entrance. Everyone is masked up, you can pay before you even get there, and it takes all of five minutes to get your food in the drive-through.
Sri Lankan food is a bit like Indian: lots of lentils, chutneys, onions, coconut milk and great spices. I ordered one of everything: chicken buns (soft, Hawaiian-roll-esque bread encasing a spiced chicken filling, delicious either hot or cold); yellow rice with spicy chicken, darkly fried onions and dried fruit, plus a lovely, cool cucumber salad and some nice dal; savory rolls that are sort of like a battered eggroll but with a filling more like the classic samosa combo; coconut roti (maybe a teeny bit thick but good flavor) with wonderful chickpeas in a sauce creamy with coconut milk; potato toffee (crisp, not chewy, and not really my thing because it’s too sweet for me but totally fine if it’s yours); and last and certainly not least, ulundu wade, savory doughnuts made with black lentil flour that come with a dipping sauce advertised as coconut chutney that is mind-blowingly complex and delicious, a combination of grated fresh coconut, mustard seeds, ginger, chilis and curry leaves.
You don’t need to order as much as all that, but it’s fun to graze among all the dishes and discover similarities and differences, plus enjoy leftovers later. It almost made me remember a different world.
Let’s pretend for now like the restaurant scene is going to get back to normal this fall (it ain’t). Condor Chocolates was supposed to start renovating a space at 160 E. Washington St. downtown, next to the College Avenue parking deck. The idea, co-owner Peter Dale says, is to move chocolate-making from the Chase Park space to this one, with big windows into the production rooms, Choco Coffee, and an expanded menu of foods and gifts, but the timeline is uncertain. Dale is also working on opening a second location of his Chase Street fast-casual restaurant Maepole, this one in Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood.
The Cafe on Lumpkin, in Five Points, is open, doing take-out of its large menu with online ordering for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea (high, low, royal and cream) and happy hour (it closes at 6 p.m.), which includes beer, wine, sangria, tea sandwiches and a few snacks.
Mama Jewel’s Kitchen on Baxter Street appears to be permanently closed, as is Gyro Wrap downtown, which has a “for lease” sign in the window. Downtown vegan sweets vendor Cinnaholic has also closed. So has di’lishi, the frozen yogurt shop off the Oconee Connector.
Eddie’s Calzones is moving into what was Zaxby’s at the corner of Clayton and College downtown. George’s Lowcountry Table has begun construction on its Macon Highway location, near Butt Hutt.
It took almost three years, but Rashe Malcolm of Rashe’s Cuisine finally has the permit for her food truck. It’s not out on the road yet, but you can look forward to it in the future, as well as her brick-and-mortar restaurant on Vine Street opening its doors—perhaps in August, but she’s taking it slowly and carefully. In the meantime, she’s still doing catering, as well as smaller meals to order.
Pay attention on Facebook, and you can find out about her produce bags ($20 and including things like corn, blueberries, squash, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches and sweet potatoes) and cold prepackaged meals ($7 each and veggie-forward, using the same ingredients that are in the bag). Pre-order by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, prepay, then pick up either at The National or her storefront at Triangle Plaza, depending on your preference and availability.
You can also order hot meals on Fridays by emailing email@example.com. Options vary from week to week, but may include jerk chicken or pork, oxtails, curry potato roti, curry chicken or goat, rice and peas, green beans, and mac and cheese.
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