The A&P Social

There’s an old joke about the weather, suggesting that if you don’t like it, wait around for a while and it’ll change.

The same could be said for the building at 503 Cloverdale Road, which in the seven or eight years that we have lived here has been a series of restaurants called Nancy Patterson’s, Village Kitchen, Roux and True. It is now called The A&P Social. After a lovely dinner last week, we left hoping very much that this incarnation will stick. Then again, we’ve hoped that before.

A quick note before the review: There’s no typo in the name of the restaurant. It’s not “A&P Social Club” or “A&P Social Cafe.” “Social” is the terminal noun in the title.

Fortunately, that oddity doesn’t matter because the food we had was tremendous. Chef Miguel Figueroa came over from the Montgomery Country Club and seems to have found his stride pretty quickly. His predecessor, Wesley True, was one of the more acclaimed local chefs, so Figueroa had some pretty big shoes to fill. Even with its new name, the restaurant space looks familiar. You can tell that it’s different. And after a couple of less-than-optimal meals at True (and Roux), this is a very, very good thing.

Enough history: How was the food? It was really excellent. We weren’t served a single less-than-superb item. We started with cocktails: an Old Fashioned and something called a Dunn and Done (which involved St. Germaine and orange juice – think the very best Fanta ever). Both were great starts to a meal in a dining room warmed by considerable amounts of natural light.

For starters, we tried the tuna dip, which was salty and fresh, spread across an excellent sesame cracker. It was served in a small jar, which we wished had been a bit larger. There were two pickled okra. Two is never enough! But there was more food coming. Fortunately, we also ordered the fried oyster lettuce wraps. The six oysters were perfectly fried, and served with a nice remoulade that added spice without taking away from the freshness of the lettuce leaves. The task of assembling the wraps added a little fun to the eating process. These wraps were a highlight, and we’re planning on returning just to order these again.

For entrees, we had the Harvest Salad with oysters (no bacon) and the risotto. The latter was hearty but light enough to be a summery counterpoint to our household’s mushroom risotto, which has become a winter staple. The corn and lima beans gave it a fresh snap, making risotto seem like something that harkened to a fresh garden. The salad was tremendous, a just-right combination of avocado, egg and greens with more of the perfectly fried oysters. It included blue cheese, but not too much, and the garlic vinaigrette (on the side) was a nice touch. It was pretty garlic-y, which was fine for us but might be a bit pungent for someone else.

We didn’t save room for dessert. Maybe next time.

All in all, we were really pleased with the A&P Social. It was chilled out, delicious, and vegetarian friendly (finally!) in a way that its predecessors never were. The food feels light but Southern, with everyday pricing on major items. Now that the restaurant has been split, creating Kudzu on the side, we really feel like we’ve got more substantial and sustainable options in the neighborhood. Hopefully it’ll be a long-term feature of that development. Old Cloverdale doesn’t need to be pretentious to be delicious. We’re delighted to welcome the A&P Social to the neighborhood, and look forward to many great meals there.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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