You know you're in for authentic Southern cooking when the server calls diners by name or, in a fix, just settles for "hon."
Such congeniality is the essence of Dave's Restaurant in Southgate Shopping Center on Gordon Highway. Owner Gloria Smith and much of her staff are former employees of longtime Augusta landmark Duke's Restaurant on Walton Way, and they've transported its distinctly Southern flavor to Dave's.
Look for Duke's staples at Dave's, including hearty breakfasts, Southern vegetables and stick-to-your-ribs daily specials.
We visited recently for lunch, where we had our choice of regular menu items or a plate-lunch special. Plate lunches, offered Monday-Friday, include a meat, three side items, a corn muffin and iced tea, all for $4.99.
We started with a cup of the soup of the day (lobster bisque, $1.95) and an order of buffalo wings ($5.95). The bisque wasn't homemade, but the silky-smooth texture and subtly sweet flavor made for a terrific treat on a chilly, overcast day. The wings were so-so, a bit dry, with an unimpressive sauce, but perfectly palatable nonetheless.
Then we moved on to a plate lunch (pork chop, mashed potatoes, lima beans and tossed salad) and a Philly steak sandwich ($6.95), served with potato chips. The plate lunch was fine and filling, with pork tender enough to cut with a fork. The veggies were thoroughly Southern, with the beans a bit overcooked and the potatoes creamed rather than mashed. Our preference? Not really, but we know we're in the minority.
The sandwich, served on a hoagie roll, was bursting at the seams with grilled steak, melted mozzarella cheese, onions and bell peppers. We were initially disappointed that the steak was shredded rather than sliced, but we were sold after the first tasty bite.
Desserts also were inexpensive. Our selections, peanut butter silk pie and lemon meringue pie ($2.50 each) weren't homemade, but as with the soup, we were satisfied.
Our server was friendly and helpful, except our growing mound of clutter never quite caught her eye. If she hadn't been so nice, we would have been tempted to plead, "Clear the clutter, hon!"
Mary Deriso is the retired general manager of the Pinnacle Club, a private dining club in Augusta. Christine Hurley Deriso is a writer whose children's book, Dreams to Grow On, is available in local bookstores and on Amazon.com.
ON THE TOWN
WHAT: Dave's Restaurant, 1631 Gordon Highway, Southgate Plaza
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8-11 a.m. Saturday, and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday
THE VERDICT: Southern staples served with a smile. HHH 1/2 out of HHHHH