Fried chicken, mac ‘n cheese and collards.
Fried chicken, mac ‘n cheese and collards.

I’m intrigued by restaurant names and what they say about a restaurant. Some are self-explanatory: The Atlanta Fish Market or Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. Some are iconic, such as Bones or Bacchanalia. Some allude to history or literature, like Ink and Elm and King + Duke. Some are just whimsical, such as Sun In My Belly.

Located in a former hardware store in Kirkwood, Sun In My Belly is a neighborhood café that serves brunch, lunch and dinner. If you don’t live in the area, it’s a little hard to find the first time as there’s minimal signage. And, in typical Atlanta neighborhood fashion, there’s minimal parking.

The restaurant has a patio for warm weather Sunday brunches, and just inside the door is a pastry/coffee counter if you just happen to want a quick bite. As is the case with many old buildings that are converted into restaurants, the seating is European banquet style with rows of tables only separated by the slimmest of margins that turn everyone into involuntary eavesdroppers. The piercing “High C” screams of a nearby baby further reaffirm that this isn’t necessarily your date night destination.

Sun In My Belly’s menu is extensive. From soups to salads, from “Lite Bites” to “Big Bites,” and even a kids’ menu in the evening, there’s something for everyone. A four-course “Supper Club” menu is available Thursday through Sunday for $35. There’s a decent wine selection and they offer craft beers.

As an appetizer, we tried the fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese. The unripe tomatoes were lightly battered and fried to an al dente doneness with just the right dab of pimento cheese. We could have eaten another serving. We sampled a variety of salads. They were freshly assembled with good ingredients.

For entrees, we ordered the fried chicken, the meatloaf and the Fez burger. The chicken was hot and crispy; the meat moist and tender. The accompanying mac ‘n cheese had a smoky Gouda taste and the mojo collard greens were spicy, but a bit too vinegary. The meatloaf with tomato jam had good flavor but was dry, as if it had lingered under a heat lamp. The accompanying Parmesan mashed potatoes affirmed my hunch, as they had the consistency of spackling compound.

The Fez burger was undercooked. To its credit, the kitchen re-fired a new one rather than attempting to remedy the mistake in a microwave. The second iteration was properly done…hot and juicy on an onion Challah roll. It needed just a little more mint aioli to balance the lamb.

There were lots of sweet offerings on the menu. The pumpkin crème brûlée was the perfect holiday sweet and the s’mores parfait was a good riff on the traditional nighttime campfire treat.

As to the service, our experience (and that of many diners around us) suffered from long pauses in between courses, miscommunication between the kitchen and the front of the house, and a general flurry of activity that came across as flailing. There’s a team effort at play here but the players don’t know their individual roles. On a positive note, the hostess did inquire about our experience at the end of the meal and seemed genuinely interested in our feedback.

Sun In My Belly may be a whimsical name and some of the food is pretty sunny, but the service is mostly cloudy with a chance of rain.

Sun In My Belly is located at 2161 College Ave. NE, Atlanta, 30317. For more information, call (404) 370-1088 or visit suninmybelly.com.

Art Huckabee is one of Yelp’s Elite Reviewers, as well as a pilot, gourmet cook and food lover. Send feedback to atlantafoodwriter@gmail.com

Quick Bites (by Collin Kelley)

Buckhead Tavern is set to open in the Eclipse Buckhead Condominium development on Dec.18. Founded by the son of Johnny’s Hideaway owner Johnny Esposito, Jr., and restaurateur Ron Barber, the restaurant and sports lounge will offer tavern fare, cocktails, beer and wine and live entertainment Thursday through Sunday. Buckhead Tavern is located at 264 Pharr Road.

Gourmet breakfast franchise Toast Café has announced it will open a restaurant in Sandy Springs in the new year, at a location to be announced. Also coming to Sandy Springs is Maya Steaks & Seafood, which is replacing the shuttered SeaBass Kitchen, by year’s end, at 6152 Roswell Road.