First Look: Spice to Table, Old Fourth Ward

In July, chef/owner Asha Gomez closed Cardamom Hill, the critically acclaimed Indian restaurant she opened on Northside Drive in Berkeley Heights in January 2012. But in August, Gomez opened a new bakery cafe concept in the Old Fourth Ward, called Spice to Table. And later this year, she will debut a new fried chicken stand, Spice Road Chicken, at nearby Krog Street Market.

The look: Spice to Table is located next door to another of Gomez’s culinary projects, the Third Space, in the Studioplex development on Auburn Avenue. The corner spot is divided into two rooms, with a cozy cafe in front and the order counter, bakery cases and coffee bar in back. Around sturdy exposed brick walls, pastel colors and shabby chic decor create an atmosphere that’s decidedly feminine.

The scene: Early on a recent Sunday morning, groups of coffee drinkers and breakfast eaters occupied most tables, giving the place a convivial buzz. Gomez greeted new customers and old friends, including restaurateur Tom Murphy, and helped her staff ferry a steady stream of food from the kitchen.

The food: Gomez has called Spice to Table an “Indian patisserie.” The menu changes daily but staples include samosa pockets ($4.50-$5.50), such as potato and pea and curry chicken, and spiced carrot cake ($6) from a family recipe. For breakfast (served all day), there’s a daily quiche ($6) and a fruit bowl ($6), plus the likes of spiced oatmeal with figs and walnuts. At lunchtime (10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.), look for roasted vegetables ($7), flatbreads ($8) and sandwiches such as coconut curry chicken or pork vindaloo served with a fruit or veggie side ($12).

The drinks: On the beverage menu, find Gomez’s favorite chai, served hot ($3/$6) or iced ($4). There’s also brewed ($1.85/$2.15) and iced coffee ($2.25), soft drinks and bottled water ($2) and fresh juices such as ginger-carrot ($5).

The extras: Among the daily assortment of savory, sweet and spicy goodies in the bakery case, look for goat cheese and onion crostata, peach and berry tarts, mango, fig and cardamom upside down cake, and spiced mango bread pudding.

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