There is nothing better than a good-old fashioned, home-style Southern meal. Thankfully, you don't have to pack your bags and trek down to Georgia for a taste of what you've been missing; just head to Table Fifty Two. Nestled on Elm Street in the former Albert's Cafe and Patisserie space, this spot offers Southern comfort in the middle of Chicago's razzle-dazzle Gold Coast
Thirteen white-clothed tables dot this beautiful space, its walls decorated with paintings that look straight off the walls of a plantation mansion. Everything from the hickory wood flooring to the chandeliers hanging from the copper-tin-embossed ceiling helps diners escape into the slower pace of the South. Good thing, too, because you won't feel like moving after the feasts served here. Try the squash onion casserole and chicken gumbo, or sample a wide array of soul food at the weekly "Sunday Supper," featuring 10 dishes like house-pickled green tomato slices, buttermilk fried chicken breast and three-cheese macaroni. Don't skip dessert; the Hummingbird Cake, featuring two pieces of pineapple, coconut and banana cake with vanilla ice cream, makes a perfect end to the meal. Or, head upstairs to Teaspoon, the restaurant's salon that is set to open soon, for a bit of tea and chocolate.
Renowned chef and owner Art Smith (you may know him as Oprah Winfrey's chef) makes guests feel right at home as he meets and greets diners and even serves dishes from time to time. His Southern hospitality is in high demand, so make reservations and bring a full wallet. You're still in the Gold Coast, remember?
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Janis Mabalay