The restaurant business is grueling, and sometimes it's smart to start small and work your way up. Over on Ben Sawyer Boulevard, Patrick and Darcy Stack opened Stack's Coastal Kitchen, a small deli-style luncheonette that's been satisfying locals for several years now. After hearing my friends rave about this place, I decided to stop in for lunch. After lunch I discovered that Coastal Kitchen has a fraternal twin: Evening Eats.
The Coastal Kitchen itself is a tight space with about a dozen small tables and a large menu hanging above the counter where you order. You'll find familiar fare like roasted chicken salad with chopped egg and crumbled blue cheese ($8.75), crab cakes with mixed salad and citrus vinaigrette ($9.50), and a seared tuna salad with soy ginger dressing ($9.50). All are simple, classic, and satisfying.
They have the standard sandwiches: egg salad ($6.75), tuna salad ($7.25), and chicken salad ($7.25). On the lighter side, I enjoyed avocado, cucumber, sprouts, tomato, onion, smoked gouda, and Russian dressing on focaccia ($7), a vibrant and crisp delight. Other options include roast beef and cheddar on rye ($8.25), Dijon roasted chicken and pastrami on focaccia, and turkey with cranberry sauce, Monterey Jack, and slaw on sourdough ($7.75).
The deli cases are filled with dips, salads, sides, pastries, and pies. I tried the pecan pie, which was sticky, sweet, and delicious. They have many prepared entrées for grab-and-go meals like lasagna, baked ziti, chicken curry, and even a French toast casserole.
In the past year, the Stacks expanded to the space next door and opened Evening Eats. Both establishments share the same address and phone number, but one is open for lunch and the other open for dinner.
While the space to the left feels like a deli, Evening Eats plays more like a modern bistro. Dark wooden booths sit opposite a long granite bar. A tall wooden wine rack offers some separation between the main dining room and bar. The light gray walls rise to meet a flat black industrial ceiling, while ruby and shell chandeliers dangle from high above.
It's a cozy little setting that pairs well with the fresh food offerings. After being seated, a wicker basket of warm bread and a ramekin of white bean spread arrive at the table. The spread is a clever purée of white beans, roasted tomatoes, rosemary, basil, and other spices — a nice change from the usual oil or butter.
There are half a dozen creative appetizers. The mozzarella is pulled in-house ($8), and the seared rare tuna with slices of fresh avocado and the sesame wontons pair well with wasabi and ginger sauces ($10). A perfectly seared, buttery diver scallop rests on top of a creamy, well-seasoned shrimp risotto fritter, both accented with tangy Asian slaw ($9).
From the entrée selections, a tender grilled salmon is perched on a bed of roasted cauliflower and zucchini that sits in a small pool of vibrant tomato ragu. The filet is topped with melted citrus butter that brings extra zest to the dish ($20). Also from the sea are two filets of crispy-outside, tender-inside cornflake fried flounder, adorned with creamy Geechi grits, butterbeans, and sweet corn hollandaise ($20).
The pan-roasted pork chop with pearl onions, crispy fried potatoes, mustard greens, and a bourbon pan sauce ($22) and the well-seasoned rib-eye with smoked gouda mac and cheese and green beans are both hefty dishes that call for a post-meal nap.
The Evening Eats bar — stocked with liquor, a dozen or so bottled beers, and a decent selection of wines by the glass and bottle — it's a choice spot to grab an early evening cocktail and a few appetizers.
The Stacks escalated their successful lunch business and expanded into a full-on "double feature" restaurant — deli by day, bistro by night. I originally thought that the notion of one address / two restaurants could be confusing, but having visited I've come to the conclusion that two styles of food, two very different dining rooms, but with the same friendly service works just fine.