Two of Cobb’s established eateries get the reboot, and the result is refreshing
By Joan Durbin | Photography by Samantha Shal
Getting a table at Café 33 on Sandy Plains Road during lunchtime was always a matter of luck, and on weekends it was often darn near impossible.
“We were turning away business during the week, and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we were turning away big,” said Shane Clements, the café’s executive chef and owner.
And Clements’ popular catering business, also operating from the four-year-old café, was growing and putting even more pressure on the kitchen, which at 150 square feet was even smaller than the average home kitchen.
It was clear to Clements that relocation was in order. Fortunately for his loyal customer base, he found an ideal site for the café in a strip center on East Piedmont Road, less than half a mile from the original.
It had housed a few other restaurants, but none caught on. Clements and his crew went to work, gutting the space and rebuilding it within three months and in June of this year, the new Café 33 opened its doors.
“We went from 1,800 square feet with room for 63 seats to 4,400 square feet and seating for 113 inside and 60 outside on our wraparound patio,” Clements said. A bar was also added and the liquor license is in progress.
Best of all, from a cook’s point of view at least, the kitchen is now 1,400 square feet. And in celebration, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Café 33 is offering dinner in addition to its regular breakfast and lunch services.
Dinner items are a mix of Pacific Rim and Spanish tapas plates and three entrees of beef, fish, poultry or pasta. Clements said this evening menu will give him opportunities to “do any cuisine I enjoy cooking, such as German, Russian, Jamaican and more.”
What sets Café 33 apart from the norm is the high standards Clements sets for ingredients of impeccable quality and the care that goes into the execution of each and every dish. Components are sourced from farmers’ markets and first-rate vendors or house made. The kitchen’s attention to each and every detail pays off in food that is appetizing for both the eyes and the taste buds.
Flavors pop in the café’s tapas of artfully stacked tomatoes and freshly made mozzarella drizzled with balsamic reduction and fried basil. Underneath is a pesto of roasted almonds, olive oil and both roasted and raw garlic, which adds just enough punch to complement the subtler aspects of the cheese and tomatoes.
The café’s kettle chips are Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced very, very thinly so they fry quickly and have none of the oily residue that can ruin enjoyment. The chips are a side item, but also star in a plate of Italian nachos, which with a light Parmesan cream sauce, chopped Roma tomatoes, chives, a smattering of jalapenos and balsamic reduction can be a great vegetarian tapas, or an entrée with the addition of chicken or blackened salmon.
If lamb is on the menu the night you are there, consider yourself fortunate. Mustard crusted and cooked to a perfect medium rare, the meat served to us with a robust demi-glace was so moist and tender it could be cut with a butter knife.
Of course the regular menu is still available, but even there diners will find a few new additions, Clements promised. “What I want to do is keep us fresh and exciting.”
There will be live music on dinner nights and special events once a month, including wine and beer dinners and hands on cooking classes.