My son, grandson, and I had dinner together recently. I love it when three generations share a meal; we get so many different perspectives on politics, food, and people. There were several restaurants that Russ wanted me to try near his neighborhood. We stopped at one, but it had a 90-minute wait—and didn’t take reservations. Better to try that one midweek for lunch. “There’s The Purple Martin,” he said with some excitement in his voice. “It’s a local bistro in the Fox Park neighborhood that’s been open for about two years. Really good food.”
I googled it and found the owners are a married couple: Brooke Roseberry and Tony Lagouranis. She had lived in the neighborhood for 14 years and had hoped one day someone would restore the boarded up building at the corner of Shenandoah and California avenues. No one did, so Brooke and Tony revitalized the historic building, turning it into a “community place . . . where people could feel welcome,” a friendly restaurant serving comfort food.
Our friendly server seemed to enjoy what she was doing—presenting food, that she was excited to describe and deliver. For starters, the pièce de résistance was the Baked Brie and Garlic with apricot preserves. My, my, that was exquisite and nearly a meal in itself.
There were five specials that evening. I went for the Half Cornish Hen with Rice and Roasted Vegetables—though the veggies turned out to be sauteed sweet peppers. Fortunately, I like those fine, but it did seem like a misnomer.
My son got a Seafood Linguine. When the server offered to take away the bowl that had a few remaining tablespoons of broth, he resisted and asked for another slice of pita to sop up every delicious drop. She smiled and said the cook would be pleased that he enjoyed the meal so much.
Tony’s background adds an interesting dimension to the menu. He’s the son of a Greek restaurateur and is into Mediterranean and North African style foods. Evidence of that shows up in specialty dishes like lablabi, dolmades, and shawarma sandwiches. Mix that with the down home cooking and atmosphere and you have the makings of a charming neighborhood meeting and eating place.
The Purple Martin, Corner of Shenandoah & California in the Fox Park neighborhood. Open: Tue -Thu 5-9p; Fri & Sat 5-10p. Full bar and drinks until 1a. Brunch: Sat-Sun 10a; Trivia Night every Tue 7p.