published Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Grocery Bar offers choices, convenience

You get to build your own meal from the hot, cold and salad bars at the Grocery Bar. A recent visit included kale and pickled beet salads, hummus, sliced peppers, crackers, curry chicken, iceberg lettuce and diced egg.
You get to build your own meal from the hot, cold and salad bars at the Grocery Bar. A recent visit included kale and pickled beet salads, hummus, sliced peppers, crackers, curry chicken, iceberg lettuce and diced egg.
Photo by Barry Courter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
IF YOU GO

* Where: Grocery Bar, 1501 Long St.

* Phone: 423-486-9312

* Hours: Monday-Friday, 7-10:30 a.m. (breakfast), 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch), 4-8 p.m. (dinner); Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (brunch), 4-8 p.m. (dinner).

* Price range: $8.50 per pound.

* Payment: Cash and credit cards.

Sometimes, a good beet or kale salad is just what you want for lunch. Throw in some hummus and crackers or green or red pepper slices, and life is good.

The Grocery Bar, formerly Enzo’s, has been open for almost two months, and it emphasizes food bars — hot, cold and salad. Patrons fill up their own to-go trays and pay by the pound.

I like the convenience of being able to find a parking space in their lot and quickly get what I want.

I will say I tried the hot bar shortly after the Grocery Bar opened and was less than impressed. We tried several dishes, including a curry “something.” I think it was pork but couldn’t tell. The baked beans tasted out of a can, and the sausage was not very exciting either.

However, I’ve been back several times and have stuck to the cold bar and been happy each time.

THE MENU

The bars are not ginormous expanses like you see at some buffets. You know the ones. There are about eight items on the hot and cold bars, and the salad bar features iceberg and artisan lettuce along with fresh spinach.

The hot bar usually has a couple of meat or vegetarian entree choices, as well as side dishes such as rice or vegetables.

The Grocery Bar also features several ready-to-go meals such as sandwiches and pizzas. There is a wine shop at the entrance, and you can buy a bottle and drink it in the dining areas.

There is also a juice bar, and the juices, like the ready-to-go dishes, are made fresh daily.

THE ORDER

Eating kale and pickled beet salads just feels so hip. They are uber-trendy and all, and while I don’t wear skinny jeans or sweaters that are about two sizes too small, it just feels so right. And they are good for you. At least they better be because they taste like Mother Earth herself.

The Grocery Bar does a good job with both, so much so, I end up getting them even when I go in intending to try something different. It’s the same with the hummus.What’s better than hummus on a cracker?

This week I got all three in addition to some pepper slices and curry chicken from the cold bar and some iceberg lettuce and a little chopped-up boiled egg from the salad bar. It was a hodgepodge, I know, and it felt a little like grazing, but it was all fresh and delicious.

The kale salad had a few sunflower seeds and white raisins mixed in and was served with a light oil dressing. The beets were also lightly seasoned with a little feta sprinkled on top.

They were both pretty straightforward, as was the hummus, which was great by me. Let the freshness and natural flavors shine.

Whenever possible, the ingredients in the foods at the Grocery Bar are locally sourced.

THE SPACE

Not much was changed in the transition from Enzo’s to the Grocery Bar, but there is a lot less of it. The layout is essentially the same. There are fewer shelves and items for sale in the grocery area, so things are more streamlined.

The food bars are located between the kitchen/prep area and the meat and fish departments. The inside seating area is in the corner overlooking Long and Main streets. It is an airy, open and comfortable space. The outside seating is a covered deck along Long Street.

THE SERVICE

It’s serve yourself. The cashier was very nice, and watching her grab items off the counter to use to “trick” the scales/register into ringing up my order was kind of fun. You don’t see that every day.

THE VERDICT

I’ll have to give the hot bar another try, but the cold and salad bars offer a nice, light and healthy lunch.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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