Southern Belle, the mostly take-out spot offering plate lunches, has been reinvented as Belle Diner with a move from Madison in Midtown to a much larger space on Union in downtown in the former site of Rio Loco.
Patrons enter to see the menu posted on a wall painted with chalkboard paint. They make their order at the counter, take a number, then take a seat.
There are plate lunch specials ($9) for each weekday. On Wednesday, the day we visited, it was Crawfish etouffee and beef brisket (which had sold out). Plates come with a choice of sides and either a roll or cornbread.
Anna opted for a vegetable plate (choice of 3 for $7 or 4 for $9). She got fried okra (nicely done with the whole pod), squash casserole, and cheese grits.
My plate was similar, though I got the very good mac-and-cheese and a nice side salad.
There are also a number of sandwiches on the menu, including smoked turkey and a po boy of the day ($7.50 with chips and picked okra).
Mike tried the roast beef sandwich served with au jus. He's not much for chips, but he liked the house-made chips that came with the sandwich.
Belle Diner offers a trio of desserts, all $4.50: chocolate toffee torte, seasonal fried pies, and a cake of the day.
We tried them all. The fried pie was peach served with an excellent homemade ice cream. The cake was a blueberry cheesecake.