FORSYTH -- Imagine you have worked hard all day and someone you enjoy being with is driving you “somewhere special” for dinner. You chat along the way, listening to music, feeling yourself relax and the miles pass under your wheels.
Finally, you arrive at a charming little square, City Hall in the middle, with parking within feet of every business. You enter an unassuming facade and a genuine smile greets you at the door. Beyond her, a cozy fire in the fireplace, warm flattering light, hardwood tables and floors, happy voices, forks clinking on plates. Everything is perfect. Your stress melts away.
Welcome to Grits Cafe in downtown Forsyth.
Your server is friendly but professional, knowledgeable but unpretentious. Though the menu tempted you with Rosemary Scented Lamb Tenderloin and Shrimp and Grits, as soon as you hear the specials you know that’s what you want.
While you wait for your entrees, you nosh on your appetizer, the Fried Green Tomato Napoleon. Wild jumbo shrimp try to hide between fried slices of tomato, under a remoulade that reminds you of your great aunt Sara’s Asheville salad. In your reverie, you hardly noticed that your entrees have arrived.
The shrimp and salmon entree is served comfort-food style, in a warm dish filled with cheesy grits and topped with broccolini. The Parmesan and Swiss give the grits a layer of bite while the fontina smoothly melts the whole thing together. You’re glad you weren’t scared away by the term “blackened” because other restaurants overdid it with the spices. This dish is perfectly balanced, the food equivalent of a cashmere blanket.
The filet is much larger than most restaurants serve. It’s topped with a smoky pimento cheese that melts into the perfectly cooked filet. The fingerling potatoes have been roasted in duck fat, giving them a rich, crispier flavor and texture.
For dessert, you choose to share the Banana Creme Pie, which is really a witty take on the peanut butter and jelly with banana sandwich. The crust is a peanut butter cookie turned up at the edges to hold the vanilla mousse. Caramelized bananas top the whole thing, which is surrounded by a raspberry coulis.
After dinner, you make the rounds to see your friends -- the dashing architect and his charming wife, two concert flautists, the dashing power couple, the owner of Macon’s most televised restaurant and other friends you haven’t seen in ages. Everyone is happy and cozy and thrilled to be together in this wonderful place.
Now imagine riding home, thinking, “That is where I want to spend all my birthdays, anniversaries and special events from now on.” Maybe other nights at Grits Cafe won’t be as magical as this one was. Then again, maybe they will.
Address: 17 W. Johnson St., Forsyth
Phone: (478) 994-8325
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; dinner 5:30-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and 5:30-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Pleasantly busy
Health Rating: 100
Price range: Lunch starts at $6.75; dinner starts at $18.75
Rating: 4 stars