Dandelion Cafe Offers Traditional and Unique Foods
A recent lunchtime visit to the new Dandelion Café in North Augusta was filled with surprises.
Located on Georgia Avenue a few doors up from the Municipal Building and next to the Shell station, the restaurant presents a fun, cozy vibe as soon as you walk in. The floor is painted in a colorful psychedelic pattern, and the walls are hung with interesting textile art.
The dining room holds fewer than a dozen tables, and guests seat themselves as space becomes available. Additional seating is available at a counter.
The restaurant had a good lunch crowd the day we visited, but we found an open table pretty quickly. The guests were a variety of business people, ladies lunching and even a table of North Augusta police officers enjoying their lunch break. Several customers were greeted by name by the staff, so it seems that the restaurant has built a strong customer base since it opened last February.
With a name that features a leafy green, I anticipated a healthy salad for lunch, but I was tempted by the varied and interesting menu to try a dish more out-of-the-ordinary. Each of my two colleagues selected a traditional sandwich, which gave me a perfect excuse to make a selection that I’m pretty sure is unique to Dandelion Café’s menu in this area: poutine. More on my meal later.
The menu offers an impressive selection of salads, daily soups, hot and cold sandwiches (even one with steak and dandelion greens), standard and custom-made pizzas, and other casual fare like chicken wings and chicken fingers.
But that is where the expected ends and the surprises kick in. Dandelion Café also offers five varieties of macaroni and cheese and six types of poutines. Both the mac and cheese and poutine dishes are generous portions served in a small iron skillet, placed piping hot on the table on a unique wooden trivet.
Back to my meal: Canadians describe poutine as the “perfect and adored junk food.” What’s not to love when you add all types of toppings and melted cheese over French fries?
Our waitress explained that poutine originated in Quebec, Canada, and has expanded its popularity throughout Canada and into the northeastern United States. Given that the restaurant is owned by a woman with roots in upstate New York, it makes sense that she would want to introduce the concept to Southerners. After all, what Southerner doesn’t like anything with melted cheese and gravy on it? Traditionally, poutine consists of French fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy. Dandelion Café offers the traditional preparation but also takes it up a notch to offer veggie, taco, Philly, buffalo and Southwestern varieties. Poutine might now be my favorite guilty pleasure!
While my veggie poutine was satisfying and tasty, I think one of the varieties with meat included might be more flavorful. The veggie poutine had salsa included on the menu but it was inadvertently left off my dish, and I didn’t think to ask until I’d consumed most of my portion. I’d also like to try the traditional version on my next visit.
A guest seated near us was eating the Philly macaroni and cheese and said it was delicious. His was mac and cheese loaded with chicken, onions, bell peppers and mushrooms, all held together with melted cheese.
My less-adventurous colleagues chose their typical lunchtime favorites: a Rueben and a chicken salad sandwich. Both were served with chips and a pickle.
My colleague who ordered the Rueben and considers himself a Rueben connoisseur declared the corned beef excellent, tender and easy to bite. According to him, when eating a Rueben, if all the meat comes out in one bite, it’s not a good sandwich. He rated Dandelion Café’s presentation very high, even if it was light on Thousand Island dressing for his taste.
My other colleague chose the chicken salad on toasted wheat bread. She described it as a basic chicken salad without all the bells-and-whistles of so many chicken salads these days.
Once we finished our meal, we took our check to the counter for checkout. The bill was extremely reasonable, with each of us spending less than $10 per meal. We were all tempted by delicious treats to take with us for an afternoon snack: two peanut butter and jelly bars and a magic bar.
The first was just as the name suggests: Gooey goodness of the two ingredients blended into a cookie bar. The magic bar had coconut, nuts, dried cranberries and butterscotch chips with a graham cracker crust.
Next time, I’ll save room for the delicious-looking carrot cake that was offered, too. We all loved our desserts.
The small size and acoustics of the dining room make it a challenge for a meaningful business conversation, but for a casual, unique, affordable weekday lunch, give Dandelion Café a shot. Parking can be a bit of a challenge, but overflow parking is available in the vacant lot next door. It is worth the effort.
Noise Level- 2
Dandelion Café is at 220 Georgia Ave., North Augusta. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. It also offers catering. Reach it at (803) 599-7565 or learn more at www.dandelioncafeandcatering.com.