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Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

PHOTOS: Christina Slaton

One day you’re sitting cross-legged on the floor wearing your favorite Sponge Bob pajamas watching Rugrats, and the next you’re rolling out of bed with a back-ache thinking about your 401K. Life comes at you fast, and change is scary and weird. So when one of our favorite Southern restaurants, Table Fifty-Two, said it would transform into something healthier to better serve people, we prepared for the worst. But we’re happy to report that the updated version, Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, while different, managed to stay true to who it was before.

There are a few key reasons Blue Door Kitchen is similar to the previous Table Fifty-Two. One: the owner is still Art Smith, best known for being the former personal chef for Oprah and Jeb Bush. Two: the food, while not as heavy all-around, kept enough of the old Southern favorites from the menu. And three: the space of this restaurant is so unique and great that it’s tough to f*ck up.

Instead of only serving heavy Southern food, Blue Door now has a more inviting menu with seasonal ingredients and some lighter options like roasted beets and carrots with feta or a grain bowl with dried fruit, hazelnuts, and pickled carrots. But you can also indulge in a few of the old Table Fifty-Two favorites like excellent fried chicken, mac & cheese, and shrimp and grits. The combination of both both heavy and light actually makes Blue Door an inviting place for people who want different things, and you can eat here on more of a regular and casual basis than before.

Blue Door is located in the carriage house of Biggs Mansion (now a private cigar club) in the Gold Coast, one of the great pieces of architecture left from the late 1800’s. That means horses used to live here, and it’s obvious those horses had a much nicer home than you do today. The inside is charming and elegant in ways modern buildings can’t usually pull off, and the current design helps emphasize it all. There’s also an excellent courtyard patio, which is one of the nicest and most serene outdoor seating areas in town. Both the inside and outside make Blue Door good for date night, dinner with the parents, or even a relaxing dinner with a couple of good friends.

Change is scary, but sometimes growing up and evolving can be for the best. And even though we still aren’t sure how a 401K works, we’re glad to see Blue Door Kitchen & Garden was able to reinvent itself without becoming something totally new.

Food Rundown

Deviled Eggs

The exact style changes regularly, but they're always delicious. We're not huge deviled eggs fans in general, but these are great.

Mac & Cheese

Cheesy and creamy with just enough of a breadcrumb crust on top. Always a strong side.

Fried Chicken Sandwich

This lunchtime sandwich comes with pickled onion, lettuce, tomato, and pimento cheese. If you’re wondering whether it’s as good as it looks, the answer is a resounding yes.

Purple Potato Gnocchi

A smaller dish with a few purple potato gnocchis, parmesan, pickled carrots, tarragon, and mint. Interesting and light but not a must order.

Seared Tuna

Another small dish with a few seared tuna pieces, dijon potatoes, olives, green beans, and a hardboiled egg. It’s all kind of on the plate individually and you can eat each ingredient separate. Solid tuna, although we wish they would cook it even less.

Fried Chicken

You can get the sandwich at lunch, but the fried chicken platter with garlic mashed potaoes and honey is what’s for dinner. It’s great.

Shrimp & Grits

Definitely get it for brunch or lunch, although shrimp & grits doesn’t have to be just a daytime meal. This version with tasso ham, tomato stew, and crispy okra makes for a good solo dinner or a side to be shared.

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