EATING MY WORDS
This iconic Southern, somewhat touristy restaurant opened in 1945. It hasn’t been without controversy.
Over the years, especially with the restaurant’s purchase by John Ferrell in 1994, controversy has subsided and décor has shifted radically toward elegance. The walls are covered with the countless celebrities who have eaten there.
The food remains about the same. The fried chicken is still the best dish on the menu in my opinion. I admit to a peculiar tendency over the years to order the same thing, chicken and dumplings, even though I never feel quite satisfied. It’s a dish you seldom see on Atlanta menus, so I can never resist. The problem for me is that it is too soupy. Yeah, I know that’s usual, but if it’s soupy, the dumplings should be large. Mary Mac’s are not.
An appetizer I often order is the pot likker with cracklin’ cornbread, something my mother prepared. It’s the water left after cooking a pot of collards. Unfortunately, the cracklings – bits of crunchy pork fat – are way too scarce in the cornbread. Still, it’s a nostalgic treat.
Fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs remain just about perfect. There’s an endless menu of sides. My favorite desserts have always been the peach cobbler and banana pudding. Mary Mac’s isn’t perfect, but it’s still comfy.
We also recently visited R Thomas Deluxe Grill (1812 Peachtree St., 404-881-0246, www.rthomasdeluxegrill.net). The 82-year- old owner, Richard Thomas, died a few weeks ago, but the restaurant has been under the management of family members for some time.
When it opened in 1985, the menu was typical of burger joints. Somewhere around 2000, though, Thomas got on a health food kick that changed the menu big-time. We’re talking vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan fare, free-range meats, juices, and smoothies. As a frequent customer, I wasn’t happy and Thomas chided me frequently.
During my recent visit, a friend and I both ordered the chicken piccata, one of my favorite dishes generally. Another ordered the salmon piccata. Alas, R. Thomas’ piccatta lacks a vital ingredient. While the salmon and the chicken strips dusted with amaranth flour, both burnished with a lemony sauce, had great flavor, where were the capers? It’s an essential ingredient!
The table’s best dish was a fat sandwich layered with grilled chicken. Veggie sides, like green beans, pureed beets and something we couldn’t even identify, took the most space on my plate.
These are restaurants that have played vital roles in Atlanta’s culinary development. While they won’t banish the Donald, they may help you remember better times.
Cliff Bostock is a former psychotherapist now specializing in life coaching. Contact him at 404-518-4415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.