You can't help but smile when you walk into The Flying Biscuit Café (2016 Clark Ave.; 833-6924; www.flyingbiscuit.com), what with all the warm, cheery colors and whimsical doodads. The dining area is broken into several cozy nooks, too, giving it a homey feel that almost makes you forget that this is the first Triangle location of a small Atlanta-based chain.
I wish I could say that the rest of the dining experience sustains that happy mood. But I can't, judging by a recent visit when my wife and I dropped in for an early dinner. By the time we left, our smiles had turned to frowns and back to smiles again so many times our faces hurt.
The first hint of trouble came when an unsmiling hostess perfunctorily seated us in one of those cozy nooks, next to a family with small children - even though the restaurant was less than half full at the time. As it happens, my wife and I don't mind being seated near children, as long as they're well-behaved - which these were. And a friendly waiter soon distracted us with complimentary biscuits and homemade cranberry-apple butter. Both were excellent, the biscuits so fluffy it's easy to guess how the restaurant got its name.
But our waiter let us down with his appetizer recommendation of black bean cakes, which turned out to be as leaden as the biscuits were light. He redeemed himself with an entree recommendation of pan-fried tilapia. Two good-size filets, nicely seared and topped with lemon butter, came with a choice of two sides (in my case, collard greens and grits that were, as promised, "creamy dreamy") - a bargain at $9.99.
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My wife wasn't so lucky. After wavering over the the French toast that our waiter had enthusiastically recommended, she opted instead for the fried green tomato BLT. Unfortunately, the kitchen forgot the B, and what she got was a single fried green tomato, some lettuce, a dab of cashew-jalapeño relish and a few feta crumbles on a whole wheat bun that dwarfed its contents.
Though our experience was mixed, my wife and I agreed there were enough bright spots that we'd consider paying The Flying Biscuit Café another visit. Next time, my wife said, maybe she'd try the French toast. That's probably a good bet, given that restaurant is known for its breakfast, which is served all day. As for me, I'm thinking bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. I just hope they don't forget the bacon.