published Friday, June 15th, 2012

Expanded menu makes Gin Gin's a Petunia's to savor

IF YOU GO

Where: Gin Gin's, 1879 Taft Highway, Signal Mountain.

Phone: 825-4540.

Hours: 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday; 7:30-10 a.m. and 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 7:30-10 a.m. and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.

Price range: $3.25 for a cup of soup or chili to $18.95 for beef tenderloin kebabs.

In a small house on Taft Highway, Gin Gin's restaurant is quietly making a name for itself as the place to go for good food in a cozy atmosphere.

Gin Gin's on Signal Mountain, which debuted in January, is the latest restaurant opened by Virginia Cofer, who also owns and runs Petunia's Silver Jalapeno, which has locations on Signal Mountain Road near Baylor School and at Warehouse Row in downtown Chattanooga.

Similar to the Silver Jalapeno restaurants, Gin Gin's specializes in taking a basic menu and doing it extremely well. The difference with Gin Gin's is an expanded menu of Southern staples in addition to sandwiches, which is what Silver Jalapeno is known for.

The menu

Many of the sandwiches offered at Gin Gin's are also available at Silver Jalapeno, including the famous Petunia's Smoked Butt, a pulled-pork barbecue sandwich with slaw on a fresh roll.

But Gin Gin's is more than a sandwich shop. The restaurant also serves breakfast Tuesday through Saturday mornings and has a full menu of salads, appetizers and entrees for lunch and dinner. Brunch is served each Sunday.

Entrees include grilled salmon, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken and prime rib.

A kids menu is available for the younger diners on request.

Various nonalcoholic drinks are offered, and diners can bring their own beer or wine to drink with their meal if they wish.

The meal

On a quiet Monday evening, there was a slow but steady early dinner service going when I arrived.

The server brought drinks and some cornbread to start and explained the menu and specials. I started with an appetizer of peel-and-eat shrimp. The shrimp were boiled in a lightly spicy Cajun seasoning and served warm with tangy cocktail sauce. The shrimp were a nice size and made for a pleasant start to the meal.

For the main course, I went with the special that evening, which was meatloaf served with blue cheese mashed potatoes. For side items, I chose stewed squash and zucchini, and added some asparagus as well.

All of the food was served quickly and was made to order. The vegetables appeared to be fresh and were well prepared. Blue cheese mashed potatoes took a few bites to get used to, but it was a tasty and different take on a traditional side item.

The Service

The service at Gin Gin's was perfect, from the hostess who took me to my table until the end of the meal.

The server was friendly and thoroughly explained the menu and specials. Drinks were quickly provided, and she checked back frequently to make sure that there was nothing missing throughout the meal.

The space

Gin Gin's is located in a converted house on Taft Highway. The space has been used as several businesses in the past, both restaurants and other types of shops.

Diners are seated in one of four small rooms that branch off a central corridor. Each room holds about four four-person tables.

The decor is quaint and Southern, in keeping with the style of food, and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.

The verdict

Gin Gin's, like its owner's other restaurants, provides good, hearty food at a good price while taking a step up from a sandwich shop to offer a more varied menu. A visit to Gin Gin's is worth your time.

about Jim Tanner...

Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...

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