Real Southern Cooking. Oh, Yes.

Friday we made one of our few yearly adventures into that most fearsome of places, the city of Atlanta. We live about 30 miles outside the city, but we only venture in a few times a year. This time, it was to visit the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.

As we were planning the trip, we decided to have dinner at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. This place has been an Atlanta institution since 1945. I’ve known about it all my life, but strangely enough, I’ve never eaten there. Tammy had just seen a piece about it on some food show on TV, so I suggested we go there, since we were going to pass it on the way to the Aquarium. She agreed, and we did.

After dining there, I really wish we had not waited so long to go. This was, quite possibly, the best not-cooked-at-home Southern food I’ve ever had. The first thing they bring you is a basket of bread. Hot homemade yeast rolls, delicious cornbread and sweet & sticky cinnamon rolls, with real butter to slather on them. Oh my. Since it was New Year’s Day, they were giving everyone a little dish of black-eyed peas, because eating those on NYD is supposed to bring good luck. I love black-eyed peas, and these were delicious.

For my meal, I had the country fried steak, fries and spiced apples. I was expecting a piece of cubed steak, with a heavy, fried chicken-like crust, and a white gravy. What I got was like what my mother-in-law makes; three pieces of cubed steak, lightly dredged in flour and fried, smothered in a heavenly brown gravy. It was so amazingly good. I was a bit disappointed in the fries; I was expecting either steak fries or hand-cut fries, but what I got was straight from a bag. The apples were OK, but needed more sugar. These deficiencies were more than made up for by the deliciousness of the steak.

Tammy had chicken & dumplings, macaroni & cheese and collards. I don’t normally like chicken & dumplings, but I had several bites of hers. I would order those again, that’s how good they were. The mac & cheese, again, tasted like homemade; a thick, rich cheese smothering the macaroni, with just a hint of hot pepper sauce. Nothing like the Kraft “cheese and macaroni.” I also tried the collards. I don’t like collards, but these were the best I’ve ever tasted.

Thomas got a burger. It was a huge, hand-made burger that was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I had the leftovers the next day. 🙂

Then came desert. Thomas had a scoop of chocolate ice cream and Tammy and I both had the banana pudding. Oh yes, the banana pudding. Its deliciousness is almost beyond words. This was not vanilla Jell-O pudding with banana slices and vanilla wafers. This was real banana pudding, with loads of banana slices in it, a heavy bread base and a light meringue  on top. Yeah, it was awesome.

The place is a little pricey, so it can’t be a regular dining experience for us. But I hope to go there at least a few more times this year. 🙂 It will at least become a once-a-year thing for us.