where: The Aristocrat, 1001 Washington St., 803-708-8004, thearistocrat803.com
cost: $9 (includes a side)
It doesn’t seem quite fair to mention another restaurant at the beginning of an article about a restaurant, but here we go.
There are those of us who still lament the loss of Garden Bistro just over a year ago. It was the perfect place to grab a sandwich during your too short downtown lunch break. The price was right, the service friendly, and sandwiches, soups and salads hit the spot.
But I have great news: The Aristocrat is here to fill the void, with fast and friendly service and a solid selection of salads, sandwiches and even breakfast for lunch. My son, who works nearby, turned me on to their excellent lunch menu, and I’ve joined him a couple times since then. Sure, he likes me and all, but I also pick up the bill, so there’s that. Happily, the prices are super reasonable, making this an excellent, affordable spot to get in his good graces.
He recommended the Vermonster, with bacon, turkey breast, gouda, sliced green apple, mustard and mayo served on warm ciabatta bread. It is excellent, second only to the muffaletta. Who doesn’t love salami, ham, capicola and chopped olive spread on a sandwich? Especially if there’s also swiss and mozzarella cheese? Fact: Melted cheese makes all sandwiches even better.
The muffaletta originated in New Orleans, but it’s like a light Italian sub, made all the more flavorful thanks to the olive spread. And because this sandwich isn’t quite as loaded as a sub, you’ll be able to make it back to work and stay awake until quitting time.
If you’re looking for a new lunch hang, especially if you’re still missing Garden Bistro, add the Aristocrat to your list. It’s easy and affordable, and they make a darn fine sandwich. The Aristocrat is located in the spot formerly occupied by Kelly’s and is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.