15 E. Main St., Buford 770-945-8818
· Open since: July 16
· Location: Char 88 is among the shops and restaurants that line Main Street in downtown Buford.
· Hours: Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner is offered from 5 to midnight Thursday through Saturday. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays.
· Owners: Owner-operators Pat Sutherland and Jim Bernard, both Gwinnett residents, have known each other for about seven years and have always wanted to open a restaurant together, Sutherland said. The duo didn't find the time until the real estate market began its downturn - Sutherland works in the mortgage industry, while Bernard owns a landscaping company.
· Atmosphere: "We wanted a creative place that added an entertainment value to a fine dining experience," Sutherland said sitting in one of the large, plush booths that seat four to six diners. Regular and high-top table seating are also provided inside Char 88, where the tables are covered with white linen cloths, black linen napkins and clear beverage glasses that await filling for guests.
The contemporary upscale atmosphere boasts a Yamaha Baby Grand Piano in one corner where, from 7 p.m. to midnight every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, Alpharetta resident Mark Krohn entertains diners.
Artwork by artists from Tannery Row Artist Colony, located just down Main Street, adorns the brick wall inside the Buford establishment.
· Menu: To create Char 88's menu, the owners and executive chef Felix Calles worked around the steakhouse concept, offering four steak options for dinner, along with seafood appetizers and pork and chicken entrees. The 8-ounce beef tenderloin and the 16-ounce ribeye are popular with dinner customers, while the jumbo lump crab cake and jumbo sea scallops top the list of most popular dinner appetizers.
For lunch, Char 88 offers a ground steak burger made with the scraps from ribeyes and tenderloins cut in house.
Popular lunch items include the fried green tomato BLT made with a spicy remoulade and the chicken salad sandwich, made with grapes celery and walnuts on a croissant. The Granny Smith apple salad is another popular choice, made with frisee, mixed greens, almonds, goat cheese and apple slices topped with an apple cider vinaigrette.
Char 88 offers more than 140 wines as well as specialty cocktails, martinis and frozen drinks. Three specialty infusion martinis are on the beverage menu, made with fresh fruits, and a Scotch list rounds out the drink offerings.
· Things you might not know: Char 88 takes its name, in part, from the 1931 fire that burned the historic Buford building. Beams in the basement are still blackened - or charred, like the steaks the restaurant serves - from the blaze. The numerical portion of the name is taken from the 88 black and white keys on a piano.
SideBar: On the menu
· Club 88 Sandwich - Ham, turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato, $10
· BBQ pork ribs - Served with cole slaw and mashed potatoes, $10
· Roasted chicken breast - Served with mashed potatoes and green beans, $22
· Pork shoulder - Served with mashed potatoes, collard greens and a natural jus, $22