It’s been a while since I’ve talked about food in my column and I’ve had a few experiences recently that I wanted to mention.

Many of y’all know that I love to eat, and while I don’t really do food reviews, I always like to mention tasty food around town when I find it. I know I’m always looking for recommendations for good things to eat so I like to pass them on when I find them.

Here are a few food-y experiences I’ve had recently that I’d like to share with readers ...

John Henry’s: I’ve been to John Henry’s Grill twice since they opened a couple months ago. I don’t usually like to visit newly-opened restaurants just because everyone else seems to flock there right away. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at what I found in Broad Street’s newest restaurant.

Everybody had talked about the burger and the more substantial menu items. But what impressed me most were a few of the smaller items.

First off, the zucchini fries are fantastic. They’re an appetizer. They’re light and crispy and delicious and they come with a little dipping sauce. The next thing that is a favorite of mine is the sweet potato fries.

They also have a great salad bar. But one of the best things about the restaurant is that the owner walks around, checking on customers and asking about their meals. One of the times I ate there was for my friends’ birthday celebration. The owner, Eric, came over, talked to our party, joked around with us and pretty much treated my friends like celebrities the entire time. It made their birthday that much more special.

Those are the things people remember when they visit Rome.

Lobrillo’s Vienna: I know this seems like a strange name for a Rome eatery, but once you get past that, you should give this place a try. It’s on Shorter Avenue, in that strip just across from Soho Hibachi and Waffle House.

The inside is decorated in a Chicago theme. Their big thing is hot dogs. They’ve got Chicago dogs, slaw dogs, chili dogs, beer brats, Italian sausage and a Philly cheesesteak. But they’ve also got burgers, salads and sides.

What I like about this place is that the food was delicious. Now keep in mind you’re not getting a massive platter of food. You’re getting dogs and burgers BUT they’re tasty and sometimes you’re just in the mood for a hot dog.

What I liked even more was the the owner (or an older gentleman I BELIEVE is the owner) was in there and was extremely polite and personable with the customers. He was talking to everyone and making recommendations. I definitely recommend trying this place when you’re in the mood for a Polish sausage or a chili dog.

Crawdaddy: Now I know Crawdaddy has been around a while and many people in Rome have eaten there. Well the other day I went there for Sunday brunch, which I’ve never done before.

The food was excellent.

I sat at the bar to eat and the restaurant’s owner was bartending. As I was eating my food I noticed that the side of bacon I ordered was extremely flavorful — more so than most other bacon. I mentioned this to him and he told me that Crawdaddy doesn’t just buy bacon in packs from a store like some restaurants do. They order their bacon from a guy in Knoxville, Tennessee, who sells a thick-cut, smoked bacon. And let me tell y’all, the difference in flavor is noticeable. He said it costs more to get it that way but the flavor is worth it.

That’s a small thing that stands out to customers. So if you’re in the mood for Sunday brunch, try Crawdaddy and order a side of bacon.

Editor’s note: Severo, who says he isn’t a “grits person” hasn’t tried the grit sticks from Sunday brunch at Crawdaddy. They’re pretty amazing.

Chick-Fil-A: I know most people love Chick-Fil-A, so this isn’t about their food in general. This is about a specific incident that happened to me a few days ago.

I love Coke floats (a mixture of coke and ice cream) and there are several places in town to get ‘em. Chick-Fil-A doesn’t have a coke float on its menu BUT their ice cream (called Icedream) is so delicious that I really had a craving for a Coke float made with Icedream.

So I go to the Chick-Fil-A drive thru on Shorter and when the attendant came to my window I told her that I know they don’t have coke floats on the menu but I asked if there was any way they could make it for me.

She hesitated for a second but said she would ask a manager. I quickly added that if it was a problem I would just order the items separately and mix them when I got home.

A few seconds later her manager radios back to her that they would make me a coke float and told her how to charge me for it since it’s not on their menu. I thought that was pretty nice.

But as I pulled around to the doorway out of which they bring your order, I can see that a manager has gathered many of the employees together around the ice dream machine and right there on the spot he gives them a little impromptu training session on how to make the perfect coke float.

I can hear him telling them how much ice dream to put in there and to fill it with Coke up to a certain mark on the cup. So they all knew what to do the next time someone wanted a Coke float. Y’all let me say that, as busy as that drive-thru was, they could easily have just said “I’m sorry sir, that’s not on the menu.”

But because ONE customer asked for something, they took a few minutes to make it happen. That sets you apart from others. That keeps people coming back. People notice those little things.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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