Not so with Souper Jenny. Tucked away in the front corner of a building on Cains Hill Place, off East Andrews Drive in Buckhead, Souper Jenny is a tasteful and modest restaurant that combines the ambiance of home with the clever touch of an intuitive and knowledgeable cook.
The menu changes daily and includes a selection of five soups, two sandwiches and a salad.
The chicken chili ($2 per cup) is a satisfying blend of black, white and kidney beans, with healthy chunks of chicken that are preferable to versions in which the chicken appeared to have been chopped mercilessly for hours.
Even better is the artichoke, new potato and corn soup ($5 per bowl), a thick combination of chopped artichokes, new potatoes and corn, spiced just enough to make you ignore the absence of butter. Apparently the use of either butter or cream is a no-no at Souper Jenny.
Bread and fruit are included with every order. I tried a tasty spinach-garlic creation and an even more irresistible olive roll.
The artichoke and roasted tomato sandwich ($3) is served on a baguette sprinkled with poppy and sesame seeds and coated with a goat cheese spread that adds just the right amount of flavor without distracting from the vegetables.
The turkey meatloaf sandwich ($4) is also served on a baguette and features a light dijonaise that, like the goat cheese, knows its place as a component.
The most impressive thing about the sandwiches is the freshness of the ingredients: delicate red tomatoes, healthy greens and bread with that optimal degree of crispness that makes it delicious.
After tasting the sandwiches I find it almost unfair that they haven't somehow been incorporated into the restaurant's name, as they are just as, if not more, tasty than the soups.
The only thing really lacking in Souper Jenny is its hours of operation. Dining hours are Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., which is fine for the Buckhead lunch set, but for the East Atlanta storeowner who has a hankering for chili, it might be a logistical impossibility. Takeout hours do extend until 6:30 p.m., but who wants to drive all the way from Peachtree Center to Buckhead for takeout?
In the end, the positives outweigh the one negative. If you don't believe me, just stop by one day and observe -- not the food but the people. The lines stretch out the door and the dining room is comfortably crowded.
It probably does "need a bigger boat." The diner in me who seeks quaint and cozy, though, hopes it doesn't get it.
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