Despite the pandemic, a new restaurant has blossomed, taking over the space formerly occupied by long-standing Clifton/CUF favorite Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro.
Good Plates Eatery officially opened its doors on Aug. 12 with co-owners and husband-and-wife Jamie and Andrew Schlanser at the helm.
Good Plates focuses on simple foods and bold flavors, offering a variety of sandwiches and bowls (of the quinoa and salad variety) for both meat-eaters and vegetarians.
"One big aspect of it is the different sauces/flavors that go into each dish. We wanted to take things that may be simple but add a little bit to it and make it something that you may not be able to get anywhere else," Jamie says in an email interview.
She highlights several of their menu stand-outs, including the brisket and cheese sandwich, which features braised brisket in an adobo red wine sauce; their meatball sub, made with chorizo and beef, complemented by a sweet red sauce (there's also a vegetarian version); as well as the Smashed Chickpea Salad, which is made with chickpeas instead of chicken. Jamie says that all bowls and salads come vegetarian, but patrons have the option to add meat.
In addition to eats, they currently have a smattering of atypical non-alcoholic beverages to choose from, including Yoo-hoo and grape soda, with wine and beer on the way once their license comes through.
The Schlansers were no strangers to the space prior to opening a business in it.
"This location definitely chose us," Jamie says.
They were frequent visitors to Cilantro before it closed at the end of January after 16 years. According to our interview, Andrew admired the building, the block it was situated on, the view and neighbors, and "would mention how that space was exactly what he would want for himself 'someday.'"
Cilantro owner Darren Phan reached out to Andrew when he decided to sell. Jamie says her and Andrew like to think "(the owner) knew we would love it and make something good out of the space."
The Schlansers signed the lease to the restaurant just three days before the coronavirus shutdown, but Jamie says takes pride in how they "turned lemons into a whole damn lemonade stand."
After finding themselves unemployed, the situation gave them more time to focus on their new endeavor. Andrew and Jamie's work ethic coupled with some support from their friends and family allowed them to successfully push through the challenges to open up their business.
"We are so excited to be a part of this community and can’t wait to see what the future holds for our family restaurant," Jamie says. "Everyone has been so kind and wonderful, walking by and admiring our hard work and now being open, seeing real people come in and eat? It’s just surreal and we’re so thankful."
Good Plates Eatery, 235 W. McMillan St., Clifton, goodplateseatery.com.