Dining out: Shirley's in Belmont keeps it simple

June 3, 2008 

Grilled chicken salad, above, and a fried fish sandwich are on the menu at Shirley's Restaurant in Belmont.

JOHN MARKS/LAKE WYLIE PILOT

Relying on a chicken salad recipe that keeps the place in business and prices reminding diners of simpler times, Shirley's Restaurant makes the food you would make for yourself if you knew how.

Everything about Shirley's says local lunch stop. How local? Well, when my guest and I walked in for the first time, our waitress had to go find us menus. But once she did, we were surprised at how many items that menu had, and the prices.

A full list of sandwiches range from the $1.25 hot dog to the $2.99 club sandwich or "golly whopper," which we were told is a double cheeseburger. Shirley's also offers cold plates, salads and everyday specials. The grilled chicken salad, which fronts the aforementioned menu, and a fried fish sandwich were our picks.

I was told by the cook at Shirley's that if you like fish sandwiches, you'll like the fish sandwich at Shirley's. Made sense, and turned out to be right on the money. The whitefish came golden-fried and stuck out both ends of the bun as a good piece of fish should. A little tarter sauce melted the fish to the bun to make a sandwich I would have been happy with at most any seafood restaurant.

The grilled chicken salad looked good, too, and completely filled the plate. Nothing fancy about it, but it made for more than a quick meal. And the serving of homemade chicken salad with crackers showed why people have been coming to Shirley's for more than 10 years.

The impression I left Shirley's with is that nothing distracts from the food. My sandwich didn't even come on a plate, opting instead for paper, and the grilled chicken salad came on a plastic plate. But the taste for the value makes it a great lunch stop for anyone working in or traveling through Belmont.

Funny thing about Belmont. The restaurants seem to have some sort of agreement. In looking for a quick bite to eat, we passed several places only to find that restaurants opened only for dinner or, in Shirley's case, only for breakfast and lunch. Interesting.

Breakfast at Shirley's, served 7 to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, includes a whole host of options from pancakes, grits, eggs and bacon to items like livermush. Nothing on the breakfast menu, including meals with several items, costs more than $2.99. Everyday lunch specials are served 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and include 20 side dishes from the expected staples to tropical fruit and pickled beets.

When the waitress at Shirley's told us they had both Coke and Pepsi, I knew this was a place where we could get exactly what we wanted. And not only does Shirley's offer exactly that on its menu five days a week, but it also leaves your stomach and wallet feeling good about it once you leave.

John Marks, Lake Wylie Pilot reporter

SHIRLEY'S RESTAURANT
Location: 200 N. Main St., Belmont

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; breakfast is served 7 to 10:30 a.m.

Phone: (704) 825-3079

Ambiance: Simple diner

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