Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Open Door Café, Athens, Tennessee

We are always on the lookout for a restaurant that isn’t an hour ride from our home.  Athens has a few places we like, but it’s time for something different.  Driving through town one day we had the red light at the intersection of West Washington Avenue and South Jackson Street.  I looked up at the old brick building on my left and the sign said, ‘Open Door Café’.  I didn’t remember seeing that before, but it could have been there and it probably has been there but it was new to me!  I admit I had never heard or read about this restaurant before.

When we got home I did a search and I found them on Facebook but I did not see a website.  I found that they are open from 3:00 pm to 3:00 am.   I also found out that this restaurant is located in the old Jackson Hotel on the square, near the courthouse. They do not have their own parking lot, but there is sufficient street parking available. I checked their menu and found several items that I wouldn’t mind trying.  I also read the reviews and decided it would be worth a try to visit the Open Door Café.

We headed to Athens to run a few errands and got to Open Door Café a few minutes before 3:00 pm.  We saw a woman enter so we assumed it was safe to go in.  We could see the dining room was set up with what appeared to be a buffet setup.  We were greeted and told we could not sit in the dining room as they were setting up for a function.  Therefore, we had to sit in the open area near the bar, which isn’t as fancy as the main dining room but not a big deal.  They have a small bar, but according to the menu they have a nice selection of 
beer. 

I understand the bar can get quite crowded!

I asked our sever a question about the NY steak sandwich and she had to check with someone in the kitchen.  She said she only worked there a few days, which was evident as a few other questions we asked she didn’t have an answer for.  She did follow through and got the answers but it took time with her going back and forth to the kitchen to ask someone.

We ordered our drinks, a Sprite and a sweet tea.  We were the only customers in the place during our entire time there, and we thought service was rather slow.  It even took longer than we expected to get our drinks.  We ordered the shrimp cocktail to start consisting of 8 nice size shrimp and very good cocktail sauce which had a little kick to it!  It also took a while to get those shrimp, but they were still warm, so they obviously were freshly cooked.  


The shrimp cocktail was worth the trip!


My husband’s first thought was to order the fried shrimp po-boy sub, but he changed his mind and got the Kobe burger.  Their ‘sandwiches’ come with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions.  The burger was served with an order of fries.  The burger had a nice char and my husband said it had good flavor.  

Kobe burger with fries


I ordered the NY steak sandwich and substituted the fries for a baked potato.  The potato tasted like it has been re-heated and it wasn’t all that hot.  I asked for my steak without seasonings and it was loaded with Italian seasoning with a very strong oregano presence.  I have issues with seasonings and spices and I paid the price for that oregano for several hours.  While the steak was over-seasoned, it was very tender.  It was served on a toasted sub roll, open face style.  It is best to eat this type of sandwich with a knife and fork however!


NY strip steak sandwich

I wonder how their service is when the restaurant is busy since service was so slow when it was just the two of us.  Several reviews did say service was slow. One review I read compared prices at the Open Door Café to prices at Ruby Tuesday.  Ruby Tuesdays steak prices are a lot less but the quality of their steak is not as good.  My 6 oz steak sandwich was $12 and their regular NY strip steak dinner is $20.95 for an 8 ounce steak and comes with salad, veggie, bread and baked potato.

While there were good points and bad points during this visit, we are tempted to try it again in the future.  I would have to make more of a point that I do not want Italian seasonings on my steak.  By the way, I can understand using Italian seasonings on chicken, but on beef?

When I do a restaurant review I give my opinion.  You will have to try it yourself.  We don’t all like the same things.


Open Door Café - click here for menu on Facebook
3 North Jackson Street
Athens, TN 
423-744-3020

Photos belong to AbbyG