Omnivore - Peggy's back!

It's been about a year since the Silver Grill on Monroe Drive closed after nearly 60 years of operation. Now, to nearly everyone's shock, the meat-and-three favorite has reopened as the Silver Midtown Grill. The new owners are Stephan Barrani and Sam Scott.

The reopening is as confusing as it is welcome. The official story a year ago was that the restaurant was closing because it had lost its lease and needed significant improvements to meet health and sanitation codes. "Not so," a reliable source told me. "They didn't lose their lease and I'm not even sure they had to do extensive repairs to stay open." Nonetheless, the new owners did find they had to make extensive improvements, even though they'd been told otherwise.

The restaurant was packed today at lunchtime. I used to eat there frequently in the '80s but hadn't been a regular for many years. I asked several diners if they found the food similar to the original owners' cooking. Everyone had the same reply: "It's identical. They rehired the old chef." That would be John Fendell. They also rehired manager Vivian Wynn and cook Peggy Mack.

But the most notable rehire is server Peggy Hubbard (above), 74, whose famous eyebrows and motherly character have endeared her to diners for almost 50 years. She is especially famous for her open-hearted treatment of men with AIDS early in the epidemic when many others treated them like lepers.

The space has been repainted and new tables have been installed. The bar, where I ate, has been replaced with fancy, shiny material. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide sufficient legroom, forcing you to assume the "wide stance" of toilet toe-tapper Larry Craig.

I had the famous fried chicken breast, green beans, mac-n-cheese and peach cobbler. The chicken was as good as ever, the green beans were appropriately overcooked and the mac-n-cheese was a bit runny. The peach cobbler, served room temperature, was as teeth-tinglingly sweet as I remembered it.

There were many happy faces at the restaurant today. It's great to have them back.

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