REVIEW: The Place, Athens, Georgia
Right across from the famous Arch in the middle of downtown Athens is where you will find The Place. Though its relatively new on the scene, opening this past February, its Southern food speaks from ages long past with a New American twist to liven up the party. They don’t offer a whole lot of selections on their menu, but we really view that as a positive. [See more of our thoughts on that topic in our review of Duluth Diner].
Parking was at a premium so I dropped the ladies off in from of the restaurant and found a parking place several blocks away. By the time I arrived, they were seated with drinks on the table. I should note that if I’d remembered, they have Cheerwine! I would’ve ordered it rather than my regular Diet Coke. Non-Southerners – you need to try this! I spotted the Southern Bruschetta with Pimento Cheese and knew I would get no arguments from either of the girls. It’s served on toast points, with a large helping of pimento cheese, and sprinkled with diced tomatoes, scallions and bacon bits. It was very tasty but the girls didn’t care of the colder temperature of the tomatoes while I thought it was a refreshing contrast to the warm toast points. No complaints here – it was gone like a paycheck on Friday!
Melanie went with the Hangar Steak that is served with mashed potatoes. She switched from the brussel sprouts to the asparagus and added a side of lima beans. She was very specific that she wanted her steak with a slightly pink center and they were able to cook that to perfection! In general, a hanger steak is not the most tender piece of meat, but Melanie found this to be quite good. She liked the asparagus but found the lima beans contained something hot that was just too spicy for her. The lima beans soon found their way to the rightful owner and I thought they were off the chain but agreed with Melanie that the kick contained within them were not revealed on the menu.
I need to stop right here and talk about cornbread. For Southerners, this can be more polarizing than BBQ. The cornbread at The Place is pretty fantastic and deserves it’s own honorable mention. My only complaint is you only get one. I would’ve paid for a big basket of cornbread muffins for the table. Melanie is pretty sure they put Rosemary in the cornbread which ends up making something really extraordinary.
Laurie had the Pasta that comes with an Alfredo sauce. She chose the chicken and found it to be a wonderful mix with the tomatoes, red peppers and onions. She liked the flavor and the portion size was incredible! Overall, we found The Place to be an excellent value, but the Pasta is probably the biggest bang-for-your-buck on the menu.
While doing my pre-dining research, I had decided on the Red Snapper and was disappointed when I arrived to find this missing from the menu. No great loss – I switched to my second choice of the Grilled Pork Chop in an apricot glaze with mashed potatoes covered with caramelized onions accompanied by asparagus. DEE-LISH! When my entrée arrived I thought it was too charred but found the section I was concerned about was just fat and it peeled off easily leaving a wonderful piece of meat to enjoy. I couldn’t believe how hot the potatoes were but I was really stunned by the presentation of the dish when it made it’s arrival. Food like this is a rare find at this price, but especially in Athens.
Our server was really wonderful. He knew everything that we asked of him right down to the history of the building. When he discussed dessert, he mentioned they got their cakes from “Cecilia’s”. A quick Google search found Cecilia Villaveces Cakes but also the news that Cecilia passed a few years ago. When I asked about this, our server told us that the business is run by her daughter so I can guarantee you that this will not be the last you will hear of Cecelia’s on this blog!
The girls split a piece of Cecilia’s Strawberry Cake, while I enjoyed the Cookies and Milk. The cookies were warm, the milk was cold and I was already dreading the walk back to the car much less the drive home. Melanie and Laurie attacked the Strawberry Cake like wolves tearing apart a rabbit. Fortunately, they had their fill and I was able to get a small morsel for my own enjoyment. ABSOLUTELY to die for!!! Like I said, you’ll be hearing more about Cecilia’s cakes.
Smack dab in the middle of the Athens action, The Place brings you wonderful Southern food that glorifies your grandmother and will rock your world at the same time. Any other time that Game Day would be a great time to check out The Place. We thought it was top-notch goodness! Guten appetit!