Monday, July 18, 2011

A Citizen's Right to Feed

Although I don't work downtown, I've got no problem lunching down there with the worker bees.

When I'd seen Amuse's chef Greg Hanley last week, he'd asked if I'd been to Citizen yet to sample the food of Greg Johnson, former sous chef at Amuse.

I hadn't then. I have now.

Located below the Mutual Building on Main, the courtyard entrance is actually on 9th Street and a lovely entrance it is, shaded and adorned with plants and a bench for lingering.

Down below, Citizen was a demure space that looked like a typical downtown office lunch spot.

But changes are coming; they're planning to reupholster the seat cushions and were taking votes on the color (I voted, natch).

The simple breakfast and lunch menu isn't large but isn't ho-hum either. Breakfast is served all day and the eggs are local, so I plan to make my next visit earlier in the day and break my fast there.

The Chef said that sweets are on the way, maybe pastries and, with any luck, maybe Country Style donuts from over on Williamsburg Road.

That's great (but dangerous) news for a donut-lover like me.

For lunch, there were six tortas, pressed sandwiches on bolillo rolls (from a Latino bakery on Midlothian Turnpike) and each came with a side and a housemade pickle.

A woman ordering in front of me was on her third visit, despite Citizen only having been open for a week.

She said she intends to go down the menu until she's tasted everything. My kind of woman.

Today she chose the pulled pork with cabbage relish and cumin potatoes and the Chef told her it was his personal favorite.

I chose the salami, ham, Provolone torta with tapenade and on the side, curried chickpea stew.

But rather than eat inside, I took my lunch out to the courtyard.

Citizen plans to provide outdoor seating in the courtyard, but until they do, I planned to make my own.

No one else was out there, so I spread out my feast on the bench and had at it.

I really enjoyed my torta, appreciating that it had just enough tapenade to make it flavorful without overwhelming the meats.

But the star was the curried chickpea stew which, with a slightly larger serving, would have been a meal in and of itself.

A thick melange of delicately-flavored curried chickpeas, tomatoes, corn, and celery had me spooning up a hot dish like the temperature was thirty degrees lower.

Impressive, too, was the house-made pickle, a reminder that there is no resemblance between commercial pickles and those made at the hands of a pickle lover.

Biting into this one was an exercise in appreciating a well-seasoned cucumber.

As I sat eating, a couple of lawyer-looking types entered the courtyard and peered around the railing.

"You should go down," I advised them unasked. "The food is really good."

"They should have better signage," the one grumbled. Actually, I think word of mouth is going to make every downtown worker aware of Citizen very quickly, so signage will  be superfluous.

So they went downstairs and I went back to my newspaper and delicious $6.00 lunch.

It may be the closest thing to all those long-ago lunches I ate in Farragut Square that I've had since moving here.

As a bonus,  there were no annoying pigeons begging for food. Or bloated lobbyists walking by.

Then again, the Gen Ass isn't in session.

Note to self: now's the time to enjoy Citizen.


  1. 1. The Hamlet show sounds great...ill have to check to see their schedule
    2. Country Style Donuts rock!!! glad I dont live too far from it

  2. 1. It was stellar, but it was only for one night unfortunately. Have you seen Two Gentlemen of Verona at Agecroft? Great fun and romance.

    2. I am a sucker for Country Style Donuts. Any time you want a partner in donut mania, just let me know.