Want to make election night results a bit more dramatic (or is that traumatic?) Put a little more skin in the game and wager on the presidential winner. Loser buys dinner at Table 20 in Cartersville. You might get a free meal — or you might have to pay for two but — based on our experiences there this week — you’ll still come out smiling after signing the check.
Chef Chris Lyons and wife Allie have put together another good reason to dine in downtown Cartersville, complete with an attractive dining room, eclectic menu and good service. There’s absolutely no evidence that part of this restaurant used to serve as a Quizno’s. This is a fresh, modern take on dining with an open room, easy view of the kitchen and bar. Ever so humble, they even have a chalk board back wall with specials, desserts and other quick updates.
We’re mostly entree people so we skipped an attractive list of appetizers as well as salads. A nice glass of Sauvingnon Blanc had to sub for our usual Riesling (not in stock yet) and we nibbled on a flavored bowl of popcorn (rosemary). Within 12 to 15 minutes, the entrees arrived in stylish fashion. Our choices:
A bone-in, 12-ounce pork chop, cooked medium, with dark color on the exterior and juicy on the inside. And big. If it was 12 ounces to start, it arrived at 11.99 ounces. It came with a welcome portion of garlic green beans and the best mac ‘n cheese (three cheeses) we’ve had in Northwest Georgia. This was shells, not noodles, and it worked fine. The chop was good from tip to the bone, good enough to finish at dinner vs. the plan to bring a bit home for lunch. $21
Option two was a hanger steak, new to us. Cooked medium well, it had been marinated for 24 hours and came with an ample serving of hand-cut fries, charred broccoli and a Cabernet demi glace. The marinade made the steak tasty and juicy, cooked just right. The sides were great as well. $17.
Dessert was a fresh apple crisp shared by two. You won’t find a fresher spin on the dessert and the accompanying, homemade cinnamon whipped cream and cinnamon-sprinkled apple slices added to the taste and presentation atop a black, rectangular slate. The apples were hot and tart with enough sweet “crisp on top. Three other desserts were offered with the chocolate chunk cake finishing second in voting. $6.
Tax, tag and title (OK, the tip, entrees, two glasses of wine and one dessert) brought the bill for two to $73.19.
There’s plenty of room to “upsize” if you want appetizers, salads or some of the impressive cocktail blends (it was a “school night” for us so wine was our choice).
Bottom line: Table 20 is a needed addition not only to downtown Cartersville but to Northwest Georgia especially with the loss of another destination restaurant, Ballenger’s. We’ve yet to have a bad meal at Appalachian Grill or Ate Track; Table 20 offers on-par dining without the wait (at least on a weeknight). It also is the latest in a series of impressive, independent restaurants to open in the region in recent years. The trend started with Linde Marie’s Steakhouse on the Square in Cave Spring, followed by Cedar & Smoke in Cedartown and Seasons on Broad Street in downtown Rome. All four spots give reason to dine closer to home vs. spots north or south on I-75. A decade or more ago, we heard the joke repeatedly about “where do you go for a good meal in Northwest Georgia? Out of town.” Not these days — and that includes some other great local choices as well.
What we’d change: Whatever happen to bread at dinner? Is it a health kick or what? This is the second independent to open in recent months that doesn’t offer some sort of bread. The popcorn was tasty but … Visuals: Very well done but that kitchen area is a little too bright and white — but doable.
So about that presidential bet . . .