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Cheap Eats: Stationside

The Terminal West eatery serves chef-driven comfort classics to concertgoers and Westside lunch crowds

In general, Atlanta music venues that serve decent food are few and far between. (We tip our hats to the Earl, Eddie's Attic, and those who came before.) The number of those serving decent, chef-driven food to weekday lunch crowds and evening concertgoers alike is even fewer. When the team behind Terminal West opened its own restaurant at the King Plow Arts Center last June, Stationside became one of those few. The laid-back eatery offers inventive riffs on sandwich shop staples, all served up in a sleek industrial space that's as hip as that one obscure band — you know, the one you liked before they got cool enough to play next door.

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MAD SKILLS: Executive Chef Dan Brown has an impressive bag of modernist tricks, and he brandishes them here in unexpected ways. The result is a menu full of dishes where the ingredients are almost outshone by what's being done to them: Granny Smith apples made translucent and pickle-tart with sous vide; behemoth salads given a crispy bite with puffed quinoa; a vegetarian-friendly BLT stacked with smoked tofu. Plump avocado wedges are given the tempura treatment and transformed into what tastes like a stick of heavenly fried butter. Stationside's kitchen is equal parts laboratory and playground, and Brown's staff isn't afraid to tinker.

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AFTERNOON DELIGHTS: If you stop by Stationside before a Terminal West show and you're carbo-loading for a dance marathon, this menu is replete with rich, filling, downright indulgent options that will likely stick to your ribs. The kitchen isn't afraid to go hog wild gussying up the staples. Take the ham and cheese sandwich. Once the humble hero of the elementary school cafeteria, it's given a grown-up makeover with an ample slathering of pimento cheese and bacon jam. Tater tots are spiced up with adobo seasoning and chipotle ketchup. Even the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich is elevated into fancy territory, served on Challah French toast with maple syrup and a peach-guava jam.

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HAIL THE KALE: While some of those aforementioned dishes may sound like food coma-inducing productivity crushers for midday eaters, Brown's offerings do manage to find some balance. Yes, you could go balls-to-the-wall with deep-fried avocado and a chorizo-boasting "Sloppy Jose." Or you could snack on garlicky kale chips dusted in nutritional yeast, a chickpea burger, or a seemingly bottomless kale salad. The puffed quinoa salad, served on a pile of arugula with tart compressed cucumbers, is particularly good. It's easy to be decadent here, but it's also surprisingly simple to stay on good terms with your arteries, if you're into that sort of thing. No matter which way you go, we'd be remiss not to recommend Stationside's signature dessert offering: a homemade whoopie pie. Trust us on this one — productivity and calorie-counting be damned.

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