The first stop on my trip to Athens was at 5 Star Day Cafe. There is a lot of pressure on the first stop. It is what will set the tone for the rest of the trip, and provide me with my first impression of the Athens food scene. WOW! 5 Star Day definitely delivered.
When looking at the “gourmet soul” menu, I had no idea what I wanted. Everything looked amazing. How do you decide between chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, BBQ, pot roast, chicken salad, hoppin’ john, collard greens, mac and cheese… you get the idea. Having no idea what to get, I asked the lady behind the register. As soon as she said “Hot Buttered Soul Chicken” my decision was made. This chicken was covered in a 9 spice Jamaican seasoning blend and baked to perfection. The first bite was incredibly tender and juicy with an almost creamy buttery flavor to it. I definitely made the right choice.
For my sides, I chose hoppin’ john and fried green tomatoes. If you have never had hoppin’ john before you are missing out. Basically it is a rice and bean dish that contains black eyed peas, rice, onions, bacon, and a variation of other ingredients. From what I can tell, 5 Star used rice, black eyed peas, and this amazing tomato garlic cucumber relish on top. The relish was tangy with a nice amount of sweetness and saltiness at the end. Once I started eating it I did not stop until it was all gone. I am definitely going to make my own version of hoppin’ john in the next few months so stay tuned.
The second side I chose were fried green tomatoes. This is another very southern dish. For those who are unfamiliar, they are an unripe green tomato that is sliced, breaded in cornmeal, and then fried to a nice golden brown. They were served with a black eyed pea salsa and honey mustard dressing. The fried coating had a light fatty fried taste that melded deliciously with the crisp, tangy, and acidic green tomato. The honey mustard dressing introduced a nice level of sweetness to balance it all out.
5 Star Day definitely set the bar very high for my first meal in Athens. Have you ever had hoppin’ john or fried green tomatoes?