Stretched back in my chair, I quietly fan myself with a folded napkin beneath a welcome umbrella for a smidge of shade. In my heat-induced daze, I watch beads of condensation gain momentum as they streak down the sides of glasses littering the table. And I’m not the only one tapping my feet while humming “Margaritaville” along with the guitarist working his way through a well-worn playlist.
Oh, if only we could extend our beach escape. After tiring days of romping in the sun, there’s no simpler pleasure than chilling with a drink at the marina listening to familiar tunes. As I mentally tick off the remaining days of vacation, I glance at the solid line of cars jockeying for parking spaces. Why do all of the license plates read “Fulton County?”
We’re not at the sandy shores anymore. We’re on Canton Street in historic Roswell at Nine Street Kitchen. Nine once butted against the other restaurants on the main drag in Roswell. When Clay Cafe vacated the brick building bridging the central strip and the converted hundred-year-old homes, Nine hustled down the street from its former location for a little breathing room.
After occupying the space for about six months, in an “If you build it, they will come” moment, owners Rick and Kellie Clark drastically expanded the outdoor seating area. Their attempt to create what they call “a grown-up good old days” proved a wise decision judging by the full outdoor seating year-round. Nine even provides custom-made blankets on chair backs for snuggling since customers occupy the patio even during colder months.
Your best bet here is to snag a drink from the bar or the lengthy, albeit hard to read, wine list and escape to the patio, leaving the cluttered interior to distant memory. Sip and savor the acoustic guitar while you dig into the tomato havarti appetizer ($8.95), which is nothing more than broiled hand-picked tomatoes topped with a thick puddle of melted havarti. Somehow the oily glob of well-salted cheese mixed with the sweet juices oozing from the warm tomatoes satisfies the need to nosh.
After loading up on cheese, listen to your waiter as he suggests his favorite menu items. Hear the subtext — stick with salad and sandwich options. Keep it light and summery with the cranberry salmon salad ($14.95). A hefty chunk of steaming hot peppered salmon sits atop an oversized bowl of leafy greens, cranberries and walnuts with a hefty serving of house-made cranberry pineapple dressing to match. The salads here satisfy with simplicity. Consider it safe if you remember a single rule: dressing on the side.
The same rule applies to the side salads served with sandwiches. Try the ham, turkey, pimento cheese and tomato panino ($9.95) with a side Caesar. Roll up your sleeves to tackle this one stuffed with hearty slices of house-baked ham and moist turkey. It’s not a mouthful in name alone. Sunset orange pimento cheese, so melted that it’s lost the texture that made it famous, drools from every crevice of the bread. Jazzy jalapenos rescue your palate from the potential cheese-induced monotony.
If you venture out of salad and sandwich territory, you might encounter the cheesy surf and turf quesadilla ($16.95) with tiny shrimp and steak that is disconcertingly gray in both color and flavor. Or, a similarly colored heap of stringy crab topping a cream-thickened tomato chowder ($13.95) that threatens to break at any moment might make waves at your table — or in your belly. Didn’t you listen to your waiter?
While the food at Nine Street Kitchen isn’t enough to bring you in, it probably isn’t going to keep you away, either. Nine Street Kitchen excels at providing a place for you to enjoy the good things in life. Escape to your happy place on the bricked porch beneath hanging ferns while listening to a few tunes. You may not find anything risky or refined, but sometimes simple pleasures are the most satisfying.NINE STREET KITCHEN 982 Canton St., Roswell. 678-682-3222 Food: Casual cafe serving soups, salads, sandwiches, quesadillas and more Service: Friendly and unhurried Best dishes: Ham, turkey, pimento cheese and tomato panini Vegetarian selections: Assorted soups, salads, sand Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Hours: 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays Children: Yes Parking: Community lot up the street Reservations: Yes Wheelchair access: Yes, rear entrance Smoking: No Noise level: Moderate Patio: Yes, a lovely front patio Takeout: Yes