* Where: Grapevine Cafe, 3103 Broad St.
* Phone: 710-8319.
* Website: grapevine cafe.webs.com.
* Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday.
* Price range: $4.95 grilled cheese sandwich, $8.95 Chicken Marsala.
For years, Soups On on Broad Street was my go-to place both for the days I knew exactly what I wanted and for those less certain days. They served relatively simple foods you might get at home, and it was always good.
The Grapevine Cafe not only occupies the same space, but my first impression is that it has a similar philosophy, though a different menu.
Grapevine Cafe offers Greek, Italian and American foods that include salads, sandwiches and plates.
Among the sandwiches are ham and cheese, meatloaf, tuna, shrimp po'boy, grilled cheese, hamburger and chicken Parmesan.
Plates include meatloaf with two sides, lasagna with salad and bread, fish and chips, fettuccine Alfredo, vegetable and chicken Marsala.
I'm always a little worried when I see a menu with a lot of variety on it. From my experience, restaurants that narrow their offerings at least to one or two food styles tend to do them better than ones that have too much diversity.
This is not always the case, of course, and one visit for lunch is not enough information to comment on anything other than what I ate.
So here goes.
With nearly three pages of items to choose from, I asked the waitress for suggestions. She thoughtfully tried to help narrow the options between a sandwich, a plate or a salad and then told me the most popular two items in each category.
My initial thought was to try the Grecian Chicken and when it, along with the meatloaf, made her list of Top 2 plate recommendations, I went with it.
It proved to be a very good choice.
While I waited, she brought a small cup of the day's soup special, tomato basil. It was served hot and, just as easily, could have been sent out cold, especially given the temperature outside.
My meal featured three good-size grilled chicken medallions served over a bed of white rice cooked with green and red peppers. Also neatly arranged on the plate were four Kalamata olives and four 3/4-inch cubes of feta cheese.
Both the rice and the chicken were perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked and were tasty on their own. The chicken was especially tender. The real magic happened when I got a bite full of the chicken, the rice, an olive and a chunk of the cheese.
The plate also came with two triangles of buttered Texas toast, which seemed a bit overkill given the plate full of rice. That's a minor issue, however, as it was easy enough to just not eat them.
I almost never have dessert. It's partly because I just don't eat a lot of sweets and also because I'm usually full. While I was more than happy with my meal, something told me to order the chocolate cake.
Maybe it was the fact that the waitress used the words "colossal," "chocolate" and "cheesecake" in sequence. She also mentioned a New York cheesecake, baklava and Key lime pie, but those didn't speak to me.
The Colossal Chocolate Cheesecake is still speaking to me and will be in my dreams for a day or two. The chocolate crumb crust was filled with shaved chocolate, chocolate chips, a chocolate filling, and it had white chocolate swirls and shaved almonds. I guess they couldn't find chocolate almonds.
It was just about perfect and, had I thought to order a glass of milk, it would have been just right.
My waitress was friendly and attentive. I arrived shortly after opening and was greeted at the door and immediately seated. My drink order was taken immediately, and everything was served with a smile in a timely manner.
She got bonus points for the cup of soup.
The Grapevine Cafe is a fairly spartan restaurant with a concrete floor serving as home to a dozen or so tables. A few paintings adorn the walls. It was clean, open and comfortable.
My lunch was very good, and I look forward to going back to see if the other items on the diverse menu are as good.
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.