published Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Side Orders: Pancake day a sweet success

It's always great to get successful news following fundraisers, so here's the latest and greatest, thanks to all of you pancake lovers.

The customers of five local IHOP restaurants in Cleveland, Hixson, Brainerd and Georgia's Fort Oglethorpe and Dalton raised $13,184 to help care for the sick and injured children in our region at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital at Erlanger.

"It was an amazing day for our staff and customers," David Reller, local IHOP owner, said in a news release. "We calculated 4,584 short stacks of pancakes were ordered during the 15-hour event, and we look forward to doing it again next year."


A few weeks ago, I wrote asking for recommendations of North Shore restaurants open on Sunday and Monday evenings. Reader Lee Ann Williams says she was having trouble finding restaurants open those nights. You readers responded well, also adding a footnote with your favorite dishes. Here's a list, and I wasn't too surprised to find that there are many.

• If you're in the mood for small plates, there's no better place to be than Terra Nostra at 105 Frazier Ave., says Marge Cunningham. She loves going there for a glass of wine and a plate or two of the appetizer-size dishes, such as the buffalo sausage served with spicy mustard, she says. Terra Nostra is open seven nights a week starting at 4:30 p.m.

• Northshore Grille in the heart of the North Shore at 16 Frazier Ave. also is open on Sunday for brunch through dinner, and on Monday it's open for dinner starting at 5 p.m. That comes as a recommendation from Sara Kennedy, a reader from North Georgia who says she eats there every time she comes to Chattanooga, adding that she loves the crab cakes as an appetizer as well as a sandwich.

• Sluggo's North Vegetarian Cafe is open every day, including noon to 3 p.m. Sundays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays. I'm not a vegetarian, but I think I could eat here every day. I couldn't agree more with Alice Morrison who says it has the best vegan food in town. She particularly likes the black bean burrito. I do, too.

• North Chatt Cat is open Sunday from noon to 6:30 p.m., but is closed Monday. Dennis Plumlee opened this place a few years back, and it's now become the best place for a burger on the North Shore, says Ted Mullins. "Kick back and enjoy a beer and the view," he recommends.

• Taco Mamacita at 109 North Market St. is open every day, but on Sundays and Mondays, it's open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. A reader, who chose to remain anonymous, says no one should leave without an order of the made-from-scratch guacamole, as well as the fish taco.

• Brewhaus at 224 Frazier Ave. also is open seven days a week. Its Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. while Monday it's open from 11 a.m. till midnight. Becki Dent's recommendation? The Cherry Ale Chicken.


Moving away from the North Shore and a little southward ... Atlanta chefs often find themselves on the cutting edge of culinary trends, so it's interesting to take the short trip south because the city never lacks something new to try.

My most recent trip to the Big Peach included lunch at celebrity chef Richard Blais' newest eatery in Midtown, The Spence at 75 Fifth St., which opened late last spring. Blais' take on a grilled chicken sandwich was quite interesting. The description merely stated: grilled chicken with buttermilk and jalapeno. Curious, I went with it and found it messy but also tasty. Rather than lathered with mayo, it was dripping with buttermilk. And somewhere between the crusty bread and grilled chicken, I bit into some mildly spicy peppers. Absolutely delicious.

Another interesting aspect of lunch -- or dinner -- at The Spence is the presentation of something as ordinary as soup. Housemade soups, such as cream of celery root or sweet potato, are transferred by servers into soup cans in the kitchen, then poured into your bowl tableside. It's an interactive experience that makes for memorable dining.

There were a couple of things on the menu to which my palate is not accustomed, and I don't know if it ever will be, such as bone marrow served with egg and tuna tartare or the kale Caesar salad. But the pork belly tacos served with avocado and sour cream were excellent. You'll find the menu at thespenceatl.com.


And now, how about some barbecue? Whenever you dine at Sticky Fingers (Hamilton Place location only, 2031 Hamilton Place Blvd.), now through March 29, you can add a dollar or two to your food receipt when you pay. All donations will be tallied at the end of March, then a big check will be written to Children's Hospital at Erlanger. When you donate, you'll be able to sign Sticky Fingers' giant birthday card, too. All this is being done in celebration of the restaurant's 20th birthday. The goal is to raise at least $4,000.


This column has been all about restaurants today, but here's a change of pace. If dining out puts a strain on your budget, but cooking is a little taxing for your time, there's a new cookbook that will fit both categories.

Southern Living's "Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook" has more than 100 ideas for using a rotisserie chicken that you can pick up on your way home, fully cooked and ready to serve. You can transform the chicken into one of the dishes in the cookbook or make two meals of it -- serving the chicken whole, then using any leftovers for dishes such as chicken vermicelli.

I made it for dinner recently, using leftover rotisserie chicken I had in the freezer. The most difficult part was chopping the celery and onions and shredding the carrots in my food processor. How hard is that? After tasting, I added another tablespoon of oyster sauce and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to boost the flavor. I also garnished with chopped peanuts that added a nice crunch and taste.

Chicken Vermicelli

1 (8.8-ounce) package vermicelli

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 medium carrots, shredded

1 small head Napa cabbage, finely chopped

3 medium celery ribs, diced

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup sodium-free, fat-free chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Chopped green onions

Soak noodles in hot water for 10 minutes; drain and set aside. Meanwhile, sauté diced onion in hot sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Add carrots, cabbage, celery, chicken and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir together broth and cornstarch until smooth; add to chicken mixture. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce; bring mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve over noodles. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Note: Spaghetti noodles or cooked rice may be substituted for the vermicelli noodles.

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