For Emory students, Emory Village in the Druid Hills neighborhood surrounding the school has been worthless for some time now. While cultivating Emory's image as a "destination university," a bit more work might be in order on the destination. Eager freshmen venture on foot in pairs from campus only to find they are marooned on a campus that, while lovely and tree-lined, offers little within walking distance. In the vacant shambles of storefronts of Emory Village lies an opportunity for collegiate charm; possibilities for shops, restaurants, bars, all within prime distance from students who are really, really tired of campus and its dining options.
WAKING THE DEAD: Enter Rise 'N Dine, the newest addition to the dilapidated strip of the Village. From the crypt of Emory Village come stirrings of life! Bright and cheery, Rise 'N Dine contrasts with its drab surroundings, pert nearby the depressing, deserted hole that used to be a lively bar. At Rise 'N Dine, the food is affordable enough to appeal to the college kiddies, yet sophisticated and fresh enough to ensure it will be a destination brunch spot for more than just students.
QUIRKY IS CUTE: Rise 'N Dine provides what many surrounding establishments do not: personality. Alongside Starbucks and Supercuts, Rise 'N Dine stands alone. The interior is airy and open, with a funky retro touch. A vintage typewriter sits against an exposed brick wall, and a "please be seated" sign hangs on a dressmaker form. Booths line one wall, and tables fill the rest of the space. On the walls hang partially completed figure-drawing sketches, and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings. From the young, attractive waitstaff to the sparse but cute decoration, Rise 'N Dine brings an unfamiliar hipness to the Village.
FRESH START: The food matches the atmosphere -- simple and not overdone, classics with a hip twist. The current menu is limited -- and will be expanded once the restaurant has been open longer -- but what's there now is a nice selection. This early on, a few bumps in the road are still noticeable with occasionally spotty service that should also improve with time. Unlike many breakfast joints, the servings are not huge, and the prices reflect this. Four dollars will get you the standard breakfast of eggs and a biscuit. Add the delicious applewood-smoked bacon or fresh turkey breast for another $2. A small but creative list of omelets includes a cucumber, dill and goat-cheese concoction as well as a farmer's-market veggie omelet with squash and zucchini, and a Greek omelet featuring feta and spinach ($7). French toast gets a makeover and comes battered in orange juice ($5).
But by far, the standout dish is the sweet-potato pancakes, only $5 for a regular stack, which is layered with cinnamon and sugar and is positively decadent. On the lunch side, croissant sandwiches delight with fillings such as turkey salad made with fresh carved turkey, egg salad with fresh dill and capers, or homemade hummus with Israeli salad.
As it makes its way into the brave new world of bruncheries, Rise 'N Dine has a lot to offer. Hopefully its infectious charm will spread, and wake up the dozing Village for good.