2006 100 Very Best Restaurants
THE SCENE. Though not so distinctively Southern after its makeover–whither the lovingly elaborated onion theme?–the subterranean dining room has never looked more cheerful or contemporary–a fitting setting for Jeffrey and Sallie Buben's Modern Southern cuisine, which remains very popular with patrons of all backgrounds and sensibilities.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Smart, careful cooking that goes well beyond fried chicken and grits; gracious service; and a thoughtful, imaginative wine list that's among the top five in the area. And you won't find a better happy hour in town than the one in the bar from 5 to 7 weeknights: 20 wines by the glass under $7 plus a raft of free and bargain-priced nibbles.
WHAT YOU WON'T. The lack of natural light can induce a little claustrophobia. And every so often the cooking slides off track, veering from hearty simplicity into gooey, cheesy indistinction.
BEST DISHES. Shrimp and grits, a model of the genre; the sinfully rich Southern Cassoulet with pork belly, jowl, loin, and sausage; almost any of the sides, particularly the delectable greens with bacon and onions; a wonderfully tart lemon chess pie.