Let’s face it: there are a lot of buffets and “meat and 3’s” in the South. Many are forgettable, have one or two decent things, or have a very limited selection. It’s rare that what some call “country cooking,” “Southern home cooking” or “soul food” reaches to gourmet status. It’s unheard of that it would then be presented in an all you care to eat format. Social Circle, Georgia’s Blue Willow Inn is a special foodie destination. . . Jane and Michael Stern of Roadfood certainly agree. I was very happy to be hosted to experience it!
Blue Willow Inn is not the typical Roadfood type of place; you can (and many people do) certainly make it your nice after-church destination. The rooms have a bright, sunny, historically genteel look.
Southern home cooking gets elevated here because of two things: the actual recipes and the care taken with the food on the line. Many of the treasured recipes are in a book, The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking, but not all! Famed Southern writer Lewis Grizzard pronounced their fried green tomatoes the very best, before his untimely passing.
I tried those fried green tomatoes! They were juicy, flour battered with maybe a touch of cornmeal.
Blue Willow Inn’s lure for me was their rice with chicken gizzard gravy! I had heard about chicken gizzard gravy being a true, old-timey food preparation, but I was a little intimidated. I didn’t want anything livery! So, I took a little bit in a separate cup. I ended up refilling it and refilling it, even after dessert, in a trance. I even asked the servers, “Is it wrong to have gizzard gravy and moist, tender rice as a dessert?” They laughed. I forgot portion control, carbs, everything. I just wanted more and more and more.
They also had first class fried chicken, catfish, pinto beans and collard greens with pork. As a palette refresher, I made use of the freshly made marinated tomato-onion salad, ruby red and full of deep, fruity tomato flavor. Georgia produce at its best!
For those of you who want something a little sweeter than gizzard gravy to conclude your meals, their tender coconut cake and not-too-sweet pecan pie is must-eat. You can also indulge in peach cobbler and banana pudding.
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