I’ve been on the road quite a bit lately and I thought I’d share a few of my favorite new restaurant finds. I had the occasion to take a road trip to Atlanta last weekend and, of couse, nothing makes one hungrier than to get behind the wheel of a car. I stopped at a couple of places that I really enjoyed. Both feature lip-smackingly delicious Southern home cooking. And while I wouldn’t make the drive just to eat at these spots, I’d definitely save my appetite and make sure to hit both the next time I am heading down that way.
The first was a place that I remember my uncle telling me about years ago. Seems he and his family always stopped at Nottoway Restaurant, right off I-85 in McKenney. We had the hamburger steak with gravy, which was excellent. The salad bar was filled with fresh veggies and tasty toppings. The menu features such Southern dishes as fried oysters, catfish filet, and Southern pan-fried chicken. They also offer a variety of sandwiches including quarter-pound burgers.
Heading north from Atlanta, we took our chances and pulled off at the Toccoa exit and pulled into Echo South Restaurant & Buffet. I didn’t even see the buffet sign. I swear. I did see a sign that said that I was at the exit for Toccoa Falls College and I figured every college town has to have at least one good little restaurant. Echo South fit the bill. It was Mother’s Day and I thought maybe the buffet was just for that, but, no, it’s a regular thing. The buffet was $9.99 and that included drinks and desserts. They had the best fried chicken that I’ve eaten since my grandmother died about 30 years ago. While I probably wouldn’t make the seven-hour drive (14 roundtrip) just for the chicken, I’d be tempted. In fact, as I’m sitting here now thinking about it, I’m wondering if I could slip down there.
The salad part of the bar was very good. The mashed potatoes were excellent and, while I only tasted very small samples of the desserts, everything was delicious. They even have soft serve ice cream. What more could a man ask for?
CLOSER TO HOME: If you’re looking for good fried chicken right here in Richmond, one of my favorite Tastebudz gave me a heads up. I want to welcome Joni Watling and her husband Brian to Richmond. They just moved to town from Minnesota. Joni says she had the fried chicken at a place named New York Fried Chicken (3000 Meadowbridge Road).
Now, I guess if you’re from Minnesota, New York is kinda in the south. But despite the name, Joni says it was not greasy and, she adds, “The flavor was lovely.” Bless her heart. I told Joni that she ought to try Kentucky Fried Cheesecake. If you have any good dining recommendations for Joni and Brian, you can comment on this site or at our Richmond Navigator Facebook page.
MORE CHOICES IN GREENGATE: The GreenGate mixed-use development in Short Pump has certainly established itself as the West End’s new premier dining destination. Have you seen the crowds that have been piling in to Mellow Mushroom and the Daily. And now that Richmond Restaurant Group has opened its West Coast Provisions, there, it’s just going to get more popular. I’m looking forward to Bartaco, a Connecticut-based chain that’s planning to open a location in GreenGate later this year. From the menu, this sounds more like a place you might find along the beaches of Mexico. We’ll tell you more later.
MUCH A DEUX ABOUT SOMETHING: I stopped in at the soon-to-open Spoonbread Deux in the Shoppes at Wellesley (9400 Lauderdale Dr.) last week. The place is gorgeous. Very sleek looking. This will be Chef Michael Hall’s second location (hence, the Deux) of his popular Spoonbread Bistro. The original is at 2526 Floyd Ave. in the Fan. I’m told that the new place, which should be opening about mid-June, will feature much the same menu as the Fan location.
FRUGAL FOODIE: I was over at Liberty Public House in Church Hill this week. That’s a cool , welcoming little bar/restaurant. And they have a pretty decent Happy Hour, too with $2 off virtually all drinks (of the adult persuasion) from 3 to 7 p.m. seven days a week. They also offer $2 discounts on select appetizers and on Mondays, they have special pricing on their burgers.
A JUICY TIDBIT: Here’s some exciting news, from Olivia Hurley with Hop Culture Magazine. She tells me that after doing sold-out events in New York City, Pittsburgh and Oakland, Hop Culture is planning its biggest fest yet. It’s their Juicy Brews Summer Craft Beer Invitational planned for Triple Crossing Brewing Company’s Fulton location on June 10. Olivia adds that the event will feature more than 30 participating breweries, along with food, music and exclusive merchandise and glassware from designer Sam Taylor. “Did I mention unlimited pours?” she asks. I’m in. Actually, she had me at “beer.” For all the details, click here.
FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE: Musciallly speaking, there’s a big weekend coming up. Here are our picks for your weekend’s enjoyment.
Friday, May 18
7 p.m. – The inimitable Steve Bassett will be performing at The County Seat restaurant in Powhatan. $6 cover. BTW, meet Steve, up close and personal in this issue of River City Magazine. Read the digital version here on Richmond Navigator.
7:30 p.m. – The Taters will be appearing for a special cause at the Goochland CASA fundraiser. Doors open at 6:00 – come early for the Silent Auction baskets!!
Tickets ($25) include a free drink!
Saturday, May 19
2 p.m. – Diamond Heist will be doing their Neil Diamond tribute show at Cary Street Café.
7 p.m. – Head back out to Powhatan and enjoy the music of Kari Smith at The Flat Rock Sports Bar & Grill.
8 p.m. – Jazz pianist and composer Chan Hall provide a vibrant, expansive landscape of poetry in motion; influenced by Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Chick Corea, and George Benson. He’ll be at Ashland Coffee & Tea. $15 in advance/$20 at the door
8 p.m. – Commander Cody, himself, live at Tin Pan. Doors open at 6. $27.50 in advance/$32.50 at the door.
So, this should hold you for a week. Next week, I’ll be in town all week and I plan to do as much eating as I possibly can. So, who knows what delights lie in store (for me, if not for you)?
Speaking of you, I’d love to hear from our Tastebudz out there. If you have any great restaurant experiences or if you’d like to share a little restaurant news, drop us a line to Tastebudz@RichmondNavigator.com.