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Bites & pieces: Cheddars, Form, Swank
The chicken-fried steak at Cheddars

Cheddars in Pooler

Sometimes, I get e–mail lambasting me for “liking everything.”

To set the record straight, I don’t look for bad food. We’re not so over–blessed with restaurants that I can run from one to another letting the chips fall. Besides, with once a week to point you toward a dining option, why would you want to be warned when you could be enlightened?

Still, it happens. Take Cheddars, for example. This Pooler, Ga., chain casual dining restaurant is big, nicely designed and consistently has a parking lot full of cars. It’s strategically placed near retail shopping, a large apartment complex and the under construction cinema plex. The bar is inviting and the drinks menu interesting.

Like so many eateries of this genre, the menu has something for everyone, literally. Salads, soups, sandwiches, meat ‘n’ three entrees...the flavors are Asian, Italian, Latin and Southern.

Bigger is not better.

I chose an entree: Chicken fried steak with baby carrots and mashed potatoes. Cheddars was founded in Texas, a state that takes great pride in its chicken fried steak. This one musta been left out in the corral.

The “steak” was way smaller than the massive piece of breading it was wrapped in. It was barely warm, tough and flavorless, despite an abundant layer of cream gravy, which was also, well, not really hot.

The machine–tooled baby carrots were naturally sweet, but overcooked and beginning to wither. The potatoes were dense, lumpy and, nope, the gravy didn’t help that dish either.

About halfway through the steak, I discovered a piece of “Texas toast” beneath the chicken fried steak. Or, was that a shingle? It was hard, equally flavorless and dry. The server was as disengaged as the meal.

C’mon folks, this stuff comes off a steam table. It’s not that hard. A friend who dines there regularly agreed with my assessment and told me the secret: “Order the Chicken Pot Pie,” he said. “Best thing on the menu.”

Lots of other restaurants do the steam table thing perfectly, like Larry’s Restaurant on Skidaway Road, 21 Shortstop near Rincon, Marandy’s on Eisenhower Drive. I could go on and on – but not about Cheddars.

1425 Benton Boulevard/330–9177

Wanna please me? Cheese (cake) me!

Brian Torres and his band of partners have opened Form in the former Eos location at 1801 Habersham St. Torres’ well–developed cheesecake recipe is the centerpiece, but also look for an amazing selection of consumer gourmet foods to go, artisan cheeses, retail wine sales and other edible delights. The crew is still working out some details and bringing the store fully online, but keep it in your sights.


She’s back!

Chef Michele Jemison, who rocked many palates with her short–lived Red Door on Wilmington Island, hopped to another Island (Skidaway) to open Swank.Bistro.

Jemison says the Diamond Causeway restaurant will offer “local fare with French flair.” I’ll have opening highlights next week.

1 Diamond Causeway (Kroger Shopping Center)/356–3100