Praise be to New Moon’s Low Country Gritz! Thick and creamy, flavored with a measure of chicken broth, infused with pimento cheese, and topped with coils of thinly-sliced ham, this warm bowl of breakfast – so rich, so comforting, and so utterly delicious – is reason enough to visit Aiken when you’re hungry. Another lure is New Moon’s Ricotta Jammy Toast, which is thick slices of baked-here bread toasted to fragile-crusted crispness spread with ricotta and topped with peach preserves. Also, there are muffins and croissants and wonderful cookies, including one bacon-chocolate chip cookie that is silly-savory-sweet delish.
At lunch, house bread is used for paninis with celebrity names. A sandwich of basil pesto, fresh tomato, and provolone is the Uncle Junior (from “The Sopranos”); Cajun turkey, cheddar and muenster cheeses with tomato and spinach leaves is the Dr. John; I am especially fond of the Cuban sandwich named Tony Montana (Al Pacino in Scarface): pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard inside a length of hot, pressed-flat Cuban bread.
For a cadre of early bird customers, the New Moon Café is really more a coffee house than it is a restaurant. Starting at 7am (9 on Sunday), locals line up to drink four-star coffee (roasted at the MoonBeans storefront next door), including inky espresso and icy Mason jars of cold brew.
A friendly, laid-back place with a well-worn feel: countless bumper stickers, posters, and brochures for wallpaper; a bus-your-own table policy; staff that actually makes eye contact and sincerely interacts with customers; and diverse clientele that includes ladies and gents both dressed up and dressed down. At tables inside and out on the sidewalk, coffee hounds from all walks of life come to sit and sip, chat and chew, and take advantage of the fact that downtown Aiken offers free wi-fi to all.
Note: there are two other New Moon Cafes, one in Augusta, GA, at 936 Broad St. (706-823-2008), and at University Hospital in Augusta: 1350 Walton Way (706-288-3057).