Café on the Corner. (Photo: Staff)

This week, Monica and I were invited out for a lovely dinner by our friend Rebecca “Bex” Feldbin at Lookout Mountain’s Café on the Corner. Located at 826 Scenic Highway, the former town grocery turned Southern eatery has been thriving for two years since reopening after a devastating fire in 2014.

Monica is a regular visitor to the restaurant for “lady brunches” with her family, and Bex, a resident of Lookout Mountain, has been bugging us for weeks to join her for a casual dinner. And in terms of dining options on Lookout Mountain, the choices are Café 7 at Rock City, Lookout Mountain Club and Café on the Corner. That’s about it unless you want to drive to St. Elmo or into Georgia for Canyon Grill.

After a terrific meal, my opinion is that Café on the Corner is your best bet on Lookout Mountain. What do you think?

The mini-cornbread is served in a cast-iron skillet. Photo: Staff)

Atmosphere/service
We met Bex outside the restaurant at about 5:45 p.m. after work. The weather was abysmal—a misty, foggy rain—and only a few tables were occupied when we arrived. The original plan was to sit outside with our dogs, but a placard clearly states that dogs aren’t allowed. Good to know. A young hostess greeted us, and we were seated inside near the bar. On the website, the restaurant is described by owner Ruth Oehmig “as a reflection of my Southern home,” and it certainly felt that way to me. The interior reminded me of an upscale country kitchen with charming décor and a menu of Southern dishes with a Lookout Mountain twist.

Bex also frequents the restaurant for quick lunches and business meetings with clients. On this Wednesday night, a half-price wine special was enticing. The women ordered a bottle of Unique pinot noir, and I decided to enjoy a seasonal Blackberry Farm beer. Our server, Tristan, was young, sure, but he was also one of the best servers I’ve had in Chattanooga recently. He allowed us to enjoy our meal without too many distractions, while at the same time being always available when we needed him. The entire staff—the median age was probably 17—was professional. I was impressed.

The complimentary bread—cornbread in a cast-iron skillet—was warm and delicious. We also ordered a plate of fried green tomatoes. I half-expected Paula Deen to burst from the kitchen at some point. I’m glad she didn’t, but I expected her to, is what I’m saying.

The halibut special. (Photo: Staff)

The food
I asked Tristan early on if they had any specials that night, and he said he didn’t think so. He came back a few minutes later and said, in fact, they DID have a special that night: Café halibut with rice and beans. Bex said she’d never had anything she hated from the menu, but on this night, she went with an old standby: Café salad (a lof items begin with the word “Café”) with salmon. Monica, ever the wild card, surprised us all by ordering blackened fish tacos.

Tristan refilled wine glasses and I stuck with water as we waited on our meal. Several other diners came in from the rain. I asked Bex beforehand if we should dress up for the evening, and she laughed. I’m glad we didn’t wear anything formal. As with almost any Chattanooga restaurant, jeans, T-shirts, hoodies or whatever else you want to wear is fine. There is nothing fussy about Café on the Corner.

Blackened fish tacos. (Photo: Staff)

Our plates arrived and all looked incredible. I was particularly fond of my special. The halibut was lightly fried and flaky, the rice and beans were seasoned perfectly, and the added crunch of the red cabbage was a nice touch. Monica’s fish tacos were topped with both pico de gallo and roasted chipotle salsa. Bex’s salad—a longtime favorite dish—was that wonderful healthy (sort of) salad we all love with mixed field greens, red onions and salmon, but also sugared pecans and blue cheese. 

I’m not sure I can remember cleaning a plate as fast I did. The halibut hit all the right spots on this night, for whatever reason. Tristan took our plates away, and the three of us contemplated the answer to the inevitable question about to be asked.

“Yeah, we’ll look at the dessert menu. Damn it.”

A skillet cookie with ice cream. (Photo: Staff)

Dessert
The dessert menu is classically Southern, with chocolate cake, lemon pound cake, apple galette and, our choice, a warm chocolate chip skillet cookie. Each cookie is baked to order and covered with vanilla ice cream. None of us needed to eat this—we were stuffed—but we all agreed to “take one for the team.” For heaven’s sake, it’s a warm cookie in a skillet. You know how good that’s going to be. It was.

Would we go back?
I was totally charmed out of my rocking chair by Café on the Corner. This restaurant lives up to all expectations. We’ll be back to try the Café mac, the blackened chicken burrito bowl and the ominous-sounding “Mountain Burger.” My advice: Take a date or a loved one. This is a perfect spot.

The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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