Only in Atlanta would any decent person get caught in a tea room, right? Well, this is not just any tea room. This is an Atlanta institution, called Mary Mac’s Tea Room. As their website says, they have been setting the standard for southern cooking in Atlanta for over 70 years. So much so, that the Georgia House of Representatives passed a resolution in which Mary Mac’s was declared to be Atlanta’s Dining Room.
So, why is this place so special? Though I have been here a few times before, thanks to my lifelong Atlanta pal, Ken Bob, Mary Mac’s is worth a revisit. First, how many historic places in the world are located on Ponce de Leon Boulevard? And just down the street from the historic Fox Theater? It is the last of sixteen tea rooms that once thrived in the Atlanta of the Forties. Growing from one dining room, it has now expanded to six dining rooms and a full service bar! We ordered a few.
Lousy NBA game last night, totally embarrassing for me and Coach Kerr. Worst ever game I have ever seen. But we had a good time!
Funny story. Ken said when he was growing up poor in old Atlanta, his Mom took him to a dental school for dental work. Downstairs was a barber school. On a subsequent visit, the student who cleaned his teeth a week ago, was now downstairs in barber college!! True story, you can’t make this up!
Cannot believe the groupies here for Miss Universe pageant. Mostly Filipinas, they are about 50 strong, and travel the world for each year’s pageant. They all know each other, and the contestants by first name!! It is really trippy.
See you back home tomorrow, I need a reality check!
Perhaps the tradition I most enjoy: using a pencil to mark your order on a thin paper menu. Originally, this was used to track orders, so a server would not be blamed for an incorrect order. Pencils and guest written orders still remain, though computers track sales and food volume.
Some drinks, in addition to the southern standby, sweet tea (aka table wine of the south), include whiskey lemonade, mint julep, and the Georgia peach martini. They even sell T shirts now! Mary Mac’s is now on their third owners, all hand picked by the previous owner.
What kind of food items are on the menu? I thought you would never ask. Some favorites are: Brunswick stew, Pot Likker, deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried chicken livers, hush puppies, grilled pork chops, chicken and dumplings, shrimp and cheese grits, chicken pot pie, and salmon croquettes. Sides include: sweet potato soufflé, black eyed pea, collard greens, pickled beets, cream corn, corn bread, among about forty choices. I had the turkey with stuffing and some great fried green tomatoes. And peach cobbler for dessert.
Desserts include: bread pudding, Georgia peach cobbler, ice cream, peanut butter pie, strawberry shortcake, coconut cake, and pecan pie.
But mostly Mary Mac’s, for me, is a step back in time, back to the Forties and Fifties, when southern dining was a really big deal. We don’t have these type of places in California. Everything is slick, and minimal, so called California or nouveau cuisine. This is heavy, oily, over cooked, bountiful, and mostly, always good!