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Going to that happy place

The first thing that strikes you about Uncle Henry's is that it's a happy place. You're greeted with a smile from a man in a bright, button-down shirt, and your chair is pulled out for you when you sit. The plastic flowers that adorn the inside are colorful.

This oasis of cheer, coincidentally enough, is nestled in the heart of the city's Parramore redevelopment effort, on the ground floor of the Hughes Supply building on West Church Street. All around this epicenter of development, there is poverty and a history of failed attempts to make things better. But Uncle Henry's is happy, so you want to be as well.

The menu advertises "'The Best' Soups & Homemade Pies," so my companion and I ordered the soup of the day, black bean and rice, for an appetizer ($1.95 cup). The soup was hearty enough, thick with rice and beans, but the beans were a little too hard for my taste, almost crunchy, and the soup itself was ordinary.

For an entree, I decided to go for the "served all day" breakfast – namely, "The Cha Cha omelet" ($4.75) that our waitress suggested. ("Only the HOT want me!" the menu cautioned.) The Cha Cha comes with ham, Jack cheese, hash browns, green peppers and a "calypso sauce" that seemed to be nothing more than a moderately spicy salsa.

The Cha Cha was delicious, though calling it spicy is something of a stretch. It was large enough that I couldn't finish the entire thing – and I have a healthy appetite – and sufficiently loaded with peppers and hash browns to keep my taste buds intrigued. My one complaint would be that the cheese wasn't melted enough, but next time I'll ask for it that way. The accompanying grits and rye toast were done right, and once I loaded the grits with salt – because, you know, grits need salt – and melted butter, it made for a wonderful, filling meal.

My companion ordered the tuna salad sandwich ($4.75), which she found most excellent. The bread was properly toasted, and the tuna was fresh. The potato chips that came with it, on the other hand, were crumbled up. Again, however, the sandwich was more than enough to satisfy her appetite.

So we left, full and happy – which, I gather, is exactly the idea.

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