By Art Huckabee
Are you one of those people who get their lunch or dinner at the grocery store? You’re probably thinking, “That’s a silly question. Most everyone buys what they eat at a grocery store.” Well I didn’t mean it quite that way. I’m talking about those of you out there, myself included, who often get a sub sandwich combo at the Publix deli or “meat and three” at the Whole Foods salad and hot food bar. Would you like to step your “grocery store dining” up several notches? If so, then visit Star Provisions.
Located in the same West Midtown space as the highly acclaimed Bacchanalia and owned by the same folks, Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, Star Provisions is a foodie’s paradise with individual markets for meat, wine, seafood and cheese along with cookware and culinary bric-a-brac and… they serve lunch.
A recent visit found quite a crowd. There are lots of helpful, white-aproned staff to turn the horde into a line and hand out paper menus. You’ll pass by the homemade sides in one refrigerated cabinet and another has cold beverages. Try to resist buying some of the fresh produce nearby. On our visit, we saw beefsteak tomatoes the size of softballs that looked ready for a Gourmet magazine photo shoot. The line moves quickly, but you’ll still have ample time to gaze at the homemade desserts, carefully “marketed” in a glass case just by the register where you order your lunch.
There’s plenty to choose from – an assortment of salads, fresh baked bread goods including focaccia and calzone, sandwiches and even a “blue plate” special, which is often fried chicken and rumored to be very good. Everything is made-to-order so you take your drink, your sides, your dessert and maybe a tomato or two and head to an inside or outside table. They bring the rest of your food to you when it’s ready; pretty nice for a grocery store.
We were in a sandwich mood, so we each ordered from the lengthy and varied list. There’s everything from a peanut butter and marshmallow crème on white bread to a Vietnamese “Bahn Mi” with glazed pork belly, shoulder and pickled chili, to a New Orleans favorite, the muffaletta with provolone, mortadella, copa, sopressa and olive salad. There’s even a house made hot dog.
We opted for the prosciutto and parmesan on a baguette, the pastrami reuben and the shrimp po’ boy. The Italian version of a ham and cheese was simple yet elegant. Its only condiment was sweet butter, which provided just the right balance to the saltiness of the prosciutto and the parmesan. The fresh baguette was crunchy and light. The reuben contained house cured and smoked pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. While it couldn’t compete in the size category with many of its brethren found in New York City delis, it did have a good balance of flavors.
The shrimp po’ boy, considered by many to be the best in this landlocked city, was very good. The lightly battered and fried shrimp were perched atop a buttery hoagie roll that was adorned with lettuce, tomato, pickles and Cajun mayonnaise. It rivaled many found closer to saltwater.
We also tried two of the sides, the roasted asparagus with leek vinaigrette and Southern-style potato salad. The asparagus were in bite-sized pieces and fork tender. The leek vinaigrette added a tart, springtime freshness. The potato salad evoked memories of what my Southern mother and grandmother used to make with bits of hardboiled egg, red onion, yellow mustard, fresh herbs and of course, mayonnaise, homemade at that; it was delicious.
We couldn’t resist sampling a few of the sweet baked goods. The Mexican wedding cookies were melt-in-your-mouth good. The shortbread was golden, rich and tender with just the right amount of sweetness.
Save time after lunch for a walk through the market. Hopefully with a full stomach you won’t buy quite so much but it’s a certainty you’ll probably buy something… after all it’s a grocery store and there’s always dinner.
Star Provisions is located at 1198 Howell Mill Road and can be found online at starprovisions.com.
Art Huckabee is one of Yelp’s Elite Reviewers, as well as a pilot, gourmet cook and food lover. Send feedback to email@example.com.