Saturday, January 16, 2010


On the eve of what promised to be a day of holiday feasting to excess, Leigh and I tried Sluggo’s North Vegetarian Café. In the post-industrial landscape at 501 Cherokee Boulevard, little touches like dining room walls rag painted a serene shade of dark green and an eclectic mix of country, blues and MoTown set the mood.
From an abbreviated, soft-opening menu, we were tempted by a spicy, black bean burrito, but chose the “Popeye” bowl of peanut spiced tofu and faux reuben sandwich, “The Berliner”, of seiten, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on Niedlov’s rye. A knife and fork job, this messy, spicy stack delivered real deli satisfaction, even from its bean cheese. A side of barely wilted collards retained their earthy flavor while basking in a soy broth.
Further east, the plentiful tofu cubes absorbed a mildly spiced peanut sauce atop brown rice. Crowned with baby spinach and brightened by notes of onion and crunchy cabbage, it banished hunger pangs without leaving us potted. Even with a Guinness and an Anchor Steam, the total reached a budget pleasing $22.
Three weeks later, a savvy visitor to town suggested meeting for lunch there. By day, venetian blinds cast stripey shadows across the banquets, where we tucked into nachos, the burrito and a “Golden Bowl” of just-grilled portabello slices, which retained their texture amid the more toothsome background. No detail is too small for Terry Johnson and Ashley Krey. Plate garnishes are lovely, hand carved flourishes that promise full expression of each and every ingredient. After all, it was a love of music that brought them together. Now Chattanooga is home to their second restaurant venture and we “presheatecha”.

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