Restaurant News & Reviews

Dining options climb in Clayton

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CORRECTION

Wednesday's Life, etc. section incorrectly described the Cleveland Commons shopping center at 8948 Cleveland Road in Clayton. The center, which is home to the newly opened Tater's Grille, does not include a Wal-Mart but does includes a Dairy Queen.

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The last few weeks of 2007 brought a smorgasbord of new dining options to Clayton, and more are on the way.

The Coffee Mill, a popular downtown coffee shop by day, now morphs into Cork & Plate (105 S. Lombard St.; 550-0174), a tapas and wine bar, by night. The restaurant shares a kitchen with The FlipSide, an adjoining restaurant also owned by partners Cliff Morgan and Jodi Sager. The duties of FlipSide co-chefs Mary and Steve Punt have been expanded to include Cork & Plate's small plate offering. The husband-and-wife culinary duo have responded with a varied offering, including house-cured tuna gravlax, chorizo and queso fresco empanadas, and dukka, an Egyptian nut-and-spice spread that has proved to be a surprise hit. Cork & Plate is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Tater's Grille (8948 Cleveland Road; 934-0093) features flavors that are a little closer to home. The newcomer to Cleveland Commons shopping center (that's the one with the Wal-Mart) serves up a varied, Southern-accented selection of sandwiches, including fried bologna, red hot sausage, BLT and grilled or fried chicken. But owner Bobby Gower, who also owns Clayton Auto Spa, is especially proud of the hand-patted burgers and hand-cut, skin-on fries. Early risers can partake of Tater's breakfast plates and sandwiches. Tater's Grille is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.

Technically, Maggie's Oyster Bar (25 Old Drug Store Road; 661-4264; www.maggiesplace.biz) is in Garner. But the location is just as close to Clayton, and the restaurant has become a popular destination for residents of both towns. In addition to Gulf Coast oysters, available raw or steamed, Maggie's offering includes peel 'n' eat shrimp, broiled or steamed scallops, and Southern-fried seafood platters. Maggie's is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. On Thursday through Saturday nights, you can stay late at the adjoining Bottoms Up Pub for a cold brew and live music or karaoke.

Main Street in downtown Clayton is about to get livelier, too. Michael and Betsy Grannis, owners of Morning Glory Inn, are overhauling the old Fishman's Feedery spot and hope to open Clayton Steakhouse (307 E. Main St.; 553-2299) there by the end of the month. The menu will be the essence of simplicity, with only one steak (rib-eye) and a handful of other entree options (including bone-in pork chop, chicken breast, and salmon), all charbroiled and all accompanied by a salad bar. There will also be the other kind of bar, with all ABC permits.

Just a block down Main Street, Gennarino "Jerry" Gubitosi and his wife, Bernadette, expect to fire up the pizza oven and pasta pots at Mulberry on Main (217 E. Main St.) by the end of the month. The Gubitosis hail from Hackettstown, N.J., where they owned an Italian restaurant called Casa Gennaro's. Their new restaurant will offer classic veal, chicken, seafood and pasta dishes (many made from old family recipes), as well as New York-style pizzas.

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