Home Grown GA – a cheerful, next-generation meat-and-three — sits along a grimy stretch of Memorial Drive like a daisy on a roadside median. It may bring to mind a hundred restaurants you’ve been to around the South. Or it may strike you as the freshest new concept to come along in years. Either way, I dare you not to break out in a grits-eating grin the second you walk in.
Chef Kevin Clark (who owns the restaurant with partner Lisa Spooner) told me it took several weeks of solid scrubbing to restore the luster the knotty pine paneling inside this restaurant that was long Mammy’s Kitchen. The bright front room holds a counter and a few tables; booths line the wall of the back room. A young woman who was as pierced and full-sleeve tattooed as a Japanese yakuza sat at the next booth with her two adorable, squirming children and tried to cajole them into mouthfuls of egg and biscuit.
The name: Spooner says the GA was added “for legal reasons” to the name, but everyone there calls the place Home Grown.
The menu: Breakfast and lunch only, with a small, totally oddball menu that makes perfect sense. While the line-up of biscuit sandwiches (with egg, sausage, salmon pattie, etc.) nods to the former Mammy’s menu, there’s also room for a seasonal heirloom tomato salad, a vegan Sloppy Joe, sauteed trout and a variety of veggie sides from local farms.
But here’s the great catch: This menu is value driven, so you won’t find any exotica driving up the prices. Pay five or six bucks for lunch, or get the “blue collar lunch plate” with a side, cornbread and a drink for a grand total of $8.
The food: Clark has a fine dining background, and it shows in his precise, simple fare. I totally enjoyed my herb-crusted trout (a trim-portion single fillet) with its side of crunchy fried green tomatoes with horseradish cream. There wasn’t a speck of grease on the tomatoes. I got an extra side of collard greens ($2), which were more clean and fresh than soulful.
Dessert: It’s hard to say no to a dessert menu that features “million dollar pie,” homemade ice pops and Rice Krispie treats. I thoroughly enjoyed a slice of sweet grits pie ($2) that seemed a kissing cousin to rice pudding.
The crowd: Many hipster parents, a few older folks and a welcome racial mix. So many different Southerners can relate to this restaurant.