OK, so I went to Southern Comfort at lunch for vegetables, but I saw homemade meatloaf on the menu and temptation got the best of me.
Southern Comfort Steakhouse and Nightclub, on Broad Street next to Sugar's Ribs, opened in April. Its advertising focuses on the steakhouse and nightclub part, but the place also offers a meat-and-three lunch.
I usually skip meat at lunch and fill up on veggies, but meatloaf -- a staple of family meals when I was growing up, with green peas and mashed potatoes -- just has too many comforting associations to pass up.
Where: Southern Comfort Steakhouse and Nightclub, 511 Broad St.
Hours: Steakhouse, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Nightclub, 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday. VIP Lounge, 11 p.m.-3 a.m. Monday-Saturday.
Price range (lunch): $5 (soup)-$11 (skewered shrimp with linguini).
The $7.95 meat-and-three echoes the name -- it's heavy on Southern comfort food: chicken breast, pork chops or tilapia (grilled or fried), or hamburger steak with onion and mushroom gravy. Sides include garlic mashed potatoes, slaw, fried okra, broccoli, mac and cheese, green beans and creamed corn. Plates come with a roll or cornbread muffin.
Diners also can choose from homemade soup (chicken tortilla, $5, or chef's special); salads (Cobb with chicken, $9; strawberry-spinach, $8; Caesar with grilled chicken, beef or shrimp, $10); or wraps (chicken with various toppings, $8). There's also a bison burger ($10) and skewered grilled tiger shrimp over linguini in wine-herb sauce ($11).
Drinks include tea and soft drinks at $2.25. The menu doesn't list desserts.
Meatloaf, creamed corn, broccoli, slaw and corn muffin.
My plate came out quickly with a healthy portion of meatloaf topped with cream gravy. The chef who brought it out said he makes everything in-house.
The meat and gravy had a good taste and texture, but the thyme used to flavor the gravy was somewhat overpowered by salt.
The creamed corn tasted homemade. The broccoli, accented with bits of onion and red pepper, was tasty but soft -- it probably had been cooked well before I arrived about 1:30 p.m. The slaw was fresh but overly soaked in a sweet, mayonnaise-based dressing. Less dressing would have improved the dish.
The corn muffin, though, was perfect -- fresh and warm, tender and slightly sweet. It didn't need a spread, which was good because no butter or margarine was offered.
Altogether, the meal was perfectly acceptable but pretty average. It seemed the luncheon service is more of an add-on than the focus at Southern Comfort.
That makes sense given that the dining room is just a small part of the venue. The long dining room, with a six-paneled mirror that bows out, holds just 10 white-clothed tables, bare but for napkins, flatware and salt and pepper shakers. The white walls are hung with black and white prints of Chattanooga landmarks such as the Incline Railway, the Market Street Bridge and the Chattanooga Choo Choo taken in the 19th century.
Much more of the space at Southern Comfort is given over to a lounge with counters, stools, performance space and a dance floor that's reached by turning right from the entryway. To the left, up a carpeted ramp, is the VIP lounge, with a separate bar and windows overlooking the dance floor.
The space, a former finance office, has been completely redone to evoke a 19th-century atmosphere with lots of wood, brick, leaded glass and antique-looking finishes.
My server was friendly, knowledgeable about the menu and prompt to take my order and keep my water glass full. I was in and out in just over 30 minutes, which makes the place doable for a workday lunch.
I wouldn't eat a meat-and-three lunch every day, but if I were in the mood for one, I'd give Southern Comfort another try.