For the second time now, I've tried to review a downtown restaurant, only to be forced to change plans at the last minute. This time it was because the place I intended to go had closed.
So my lunch partner and I decided to go to the Dash-In, just around the corner.
The restaurant, which opened in 1993, is firmly established on a pretty block of Calhoun Street lined with trees and planters. Outdoor seating is available, but we chose to eat inside.
Wood floors, a brick wall and exposed ductwork give the eatery an old/new feel. It evokes history and feels contemporary simultaneously.
That's not the only line the Dash-In straddles. It's a coffeehouse, serving locally roasted Old Crown coffees, and also serves craft beers. It's open from early in the morning to late at night, so you could go there for coffee in the morning, return for lunch, and then go back again after work for libations.
We had to skip the libations since I was working. I reasoned that would give me more room for dessert.
I ordered one of my favorite comfort lunches — a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. The Dash-In doesn't serve an ordinary grilled cheese, however. They have three sandwiches, each with its own twist.
I had a hard time deciding but settled on the pesto grilled cheese. Four cheeses — cheddar, Swiss, provolone and Muenster — were served with a sliced tomato (I should add, a flavorful, bright red tomato), and basil pesto sauce on grilled sourdough.
The cook used a light touch with the pesto, so it didn't overpower the wonderful blend of cheeses. The sandwich was supposed to include artichoke hearts. I'm not sure if it did, but it was fine without them.
The tomato soup was creamy, with small chunks of tomato. It was topped with a bit of Parmesan cheese and scallions, and a touch of wine gave it a rich, tangy flavor.
My friend ordered chicken salad on toasted sourdough. The chicken salad was spilling out of the sandwich, so I helped myself to a forkful. We both liked the Dash-In's chicken salad, which is made with herbed cheese. The flavor was subtle, and the tender white chicken pieces were held together with was I suspect was cream cheese.
I'm not a big fan of mayonnaise, so this chicken salad, which was of a drier consistency than a mayo-based mixture, was more to my liking.
Her side bowl of fruit included watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple and grapes.
For dessert, she chose cinnamon roll bread pudding. It was served room temperature and drizzled with vanilla icing. Good, but would have been even better warmed up with a dollop of ice cream on top.
I ordered key lime cheesecake. (The Dash-In's desserts are made in-house.) The flavor was good, and coconut was baked into the crust, which proved to be a nice addition. About that crust, however: My spoon just didn't cut it. I should have asked for a knife I guess, or maybe a chisel. Tasty, but very … shall we say, compact.
With its pleasant atmosphere, diverse menu and central location, I predict the Dash-In will be around for a long time.