SWEET HOME FOOD BAR // “AFTER ONE BITE MY HEART WAS WHOLE AGAIN”

Tucked between Mellow Mushroom and Black Warrior Brewery Company, sits Tuscaloosa’s newest restaurant Sweet Home Food Bar. Native New Yorkers and owners, Debra Rubino and George Harsch, bring a little northern touch to southern comfort foods. They serve breakfast, lunch, and tapas. Tuscaloosa’s local fresh and seasonal produce and meat inspire the menu. Displaying the motto “Be Social. Eat Well.” Rubino and Harsch wanted to create an atmosphere that draws together good company and good food. Conversation at my table was not lacking after biting into their decadent pastries and savory comfort cuisines.
The restaurant is charming, whimsical, and stunning. At the entrance was a hostess booth placed next to a black gothic door holding two door knockers. I was reminded of the talking door knockers from the movie “Labyrinth.” The long and narrow space is broken up by a bar which displays a case of tapas and sampler salads. Seating around the bar was occupied by several students casually dining solo. Moments after my husband and I arrived, we were greeted by one of the owners, George Harsch. He was dressed casually in a t-shirt, blue jeans, and apron. In between a few jokes and pleasant banter, he told us to help ourselves to any table we desired. The lovely tables appeared brand new and were accented with vintage encyclopedias dated 1947. White lights twinkled from long stem tress against the exposed brick wall, while the opposite wall presented a cluster of eye-catching abstract art. George handed us menus and began to introduce us to the new restaurant. He noted that the décor was strategically placed throughout the restaurant to allow for a hidden object game. The challenge was to find a number of hidden items: the wall of noses, guardian angels flying above, a rocking horse on a mantle and even a hidden room. Though devised for kids, I found myself carefully inspecting my surroundings and seriously considering knocking on Labyrinth door.
The menu is short and sweet—literally, sweet. I was immediately drawn to the hand cakes, five light and fluffy crafted puffs filled with an assortment of fruits, peanut butter, coconut, Nutella, or chocolate. Tears nearly flooded my eyes when the waitress announced there were none being made that day. Heart broken, I reluctantly ordered the pancakes with a side of turkey bacon.
My husband went with something a little more substantial, the Meatball Parmesan Hero with Caesar salad on the side. It was served like a piece of art: a well put-together sub next to a bowl of green salad with freshly made Caesar dressing. Melted Parmesan cheese oozed out of the toasted hero bun. The house-made meatballs had been covered with a creamy tomato sauce. These delicately handcrafted meatballs literally crumbled with each savory bite. Very fresh and delicious.
The pancakes and bacon were very satisfying. Although, my hand kept making its way to my husband’s plate. The freshly made Caesar dressing was light. I didn’t feel as if I were sinning by nearly licking the cup clean. The waitress took the left-over salad, topped it off, and packaged it up with another cup of house-made Caesar dressing. To our surprise, two warm, freshly baked coconut cupcakes sat side-by-side in the box.
After one bite my heart was whole again.
Debra Rubino and George Harsch have really brought something special to Tuscaloosa, though, they have a few kinks to work out. It was apparent, that everyone who walked in was confused as to whether take a seat or wait to be seated. Perhaps, a hostess is in the near future. The limited hours made it extremely difficult for me to find time to come in and eat. Fortunately, Debra says, extended hours will be offered by reservation on certain days of the week.
Currently, Sweet Home Food Bar is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Let us know where you are eating, tweet us @ThePlanetWeekly.

Cindy Huggins, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist and local “foodie.” Tweet her @DietitianCindy

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