Opened in 1943, The Cupboard Restaurant built a reputation for great vegetables. Now located in a former Shoney’s on Union Ave., it has gone from ramshackle charm to corporate efficiency with plenty of parking and a comfortable dining room with broad enough aisles for waitresses to tote plates overflowing with good things to eat.
Vegetables remain the foundation — none of them prepared using any sort of animal fat. The Cupboard’s printed menu, which is different for each day of the week, lists a choice of eighteen to twenty vegetables, along with about five entrees and desserts. Among the main courses are such plate-lunch paradigms as baked chicken and dressing, beef tips with noodles, and a fried veal cutlet. One entrée plus three vegetables – served on an unbreakable partitioned plate, so buttered squash doesn’t mingle with rutabaga turnips – costs under $15.
Many customers skip the entrée altogether and get a four-vegetable plate, sweet tea on the side, plus blackberry cobbler or lemon ice box pie for dessert. All meals come with a basket that holds creamy-centered cornbread gem muffins and yeast rolls.
Of special note among the veggies are plain sliced fresh tomatoes (and we do mean fresh, in season!) as well as tangy fried green tomatoes. The sweet potato is one whole one, baked in its skin until marshmallow-soft. And we love the luxurious corn pudding.
Cupboard cookbooks are available for sale near the cash register, and they contain excellent recipes, many of which depend on the freshness of seasonal produce.