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Restaurant Review: The Brown Hen

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Photo Courtesy of Brieanah Gouveia

Article Written by Sarah Joseph

The wind caught the door as I struggled to enter the Brown Hen, a new restaurant on the corner of Main St, and College Ave. Many Roanoke students lament the loss of the previous shop, Lucky’s Pizza, which was previously in that exact spot.

Once inside, I found myself in the small, but not uncomfort- ably so, familiar space that holds no more than 20 people. Stools filled the room with a singu- lar, continuous table stretched across the wall and an L shaped bar took up the rest of the space. My advice: don’t go in groups larger than four or you will be hard-pressed to find a seat. I stood awkwardly in front of the door trying to make eye contact with the waitress/hostess. It’s seat-yourself, but I wanted to make my presence known.

The restaurant boasts of its “Southern comfort food”

that comes “with homemade warmth,” according to the Brown Hen’s Facebook page. I am a Northerner. As far as Southern comfort food goes, my only expertise are the stereotypes of artery-clogging biscuits and gravy, fried chicken and waf es. However, as I began to peruse the menu I was shocked to see tofu and many health conscious foods standing beside the clas- sics. The brief descriptions for each dish were reminiscent of cafes I nd back home, seem- ingly out of place for a South- ern comfort food restaurant. However, it was refreshing to see healthier options for people, especially near a college campus. It also came as a relief to my veg- etarian lunch-mate even that she could nd options for herself on the menu.

I ordered the Roanoke Mt. Chicken Salad Wrap and a side

salad with the homemade black pepper ranch dressing. My com- panion ordered the Tofu Wrap (BBQ and homemade kimchi) with a side of hash browns. As we waited for our food, I took in the simple, but tasteful decor. The cleanly painted grey painted walls and the wooden nish add- ed to its timeless and charming character.

For such a small place, the food took a bit longer than expected. However, as most of the food is homemade, even the ketchup, it only makes sense that the preparation would be longer. Once we were brought our food, the waitress apologized for the wait and was very accom- modating with our requests. The service at the Brown Hen de – nitely lived up to the “homemade warmth” accompanying the food.

As for the food, I was again surprised. Typically, a chicken

salad wrap/sandwich is a tad bit sweet, however this one was smoky. Yet, this did not retract from the quality of the sand- wich, it was just unexpected. My friend, who ordered the tofu, con rmed that it was smokey as well. The Southern comfort of pickled vegetables and greasy food was not altogether missing. The hash browns were greasy, but the good kind of greasy. There were pickled beets in my salad, certainly making it more enticing.

The Brown Hen puts an unexpected twist on classic com- fort food, and is a welcomed and unique addition to the down- town Salem restaurant scene.

For those who wish to to grab a meal themselves from the Brown Hen, be mindful of the hours. However, they do have carryout, so you can run to class with a Brown Hen bag.