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Blue Willow Inn: Not just for the ladies

Blue Willow Inn

credit: Jenny Turknett

“Good afternoon, ladies.”

Those are words I’ll never forget — words my husband will never forget. (And ones I was sworn to never repeat. Whoops.)

On my eighteenth birthday, I begged my boyfriend (now husband) to celebrate with me over a birthday lunch at a local tearoom. I dragged him there despite his protests that “Guys do not go to such places.” Yet, I persuaded him to go, telling him that guys went there all the time.

Imagine his reaction when the waitress loudly welcomed us with those three little words as she approached him from behind. Cringe. That was his last visit to a tearoom.

So, what’s a girl to do? Sometimes we just want to eat in a place that’s a little frilly but we want to take our significant others. Thankfully, I can now find places that offer a compromise.

Recently, I was reminded of that eighteenth birthday lunch while eating at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle. Its name alone puts one in mind of fine china and all things feminine. Upon entering, the lemonade cart awaits as does a gracious Southern hostess. The feminine touches are there, but so are the men.

Why do they come? The hearty, rib-sticking food. The all-you-can-eat buffet with fried chicken, roast beef, and barbecue pork. The vast array of vegetables including green beans, cabbage, and fried-green tomatoes. The dessert buffet with pecan,Blue Willow Buffet pumpkin, lemon meringue, and peanut butter pies. And that’s just to start.

There’s no shame in being a male in this restaurant. In fact, my parents now live relatively close to Social Circle and I think my dad suggests eating there more often than my mom.

Admittedly, there are no chicken salad croissants, there are no petit fours. But it’s a good compromise. Good food, good atmosphere, good company. What more could a girl ask?

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

13 comments Add your comment

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Lisa

November 2nd, 2010
8:26 am

I had lunch there a couple years ago and came away very unimpressed. Plastic table clothes on tables stuffed in every corner is just not my idea of a fun place and the food was not worth it. BUT this was over the Christmas holiday and the place was packed so I guess that could affect the product but I don’t have any desire to go back.

lake721

November 2nd, 2010
8:43 am

We went to Blue Willow with a group of neighbors a few months ago. I was VERY underwhelmed! $60 later (for my husband and myself) we left wishing we had spent the $ on a nice dinner somewhere with wine! One plate of fried green tomatoes, green beans, roast beef, mac and cheese for me was definitely NOT worth the $ money spent. Unless you are planning to starve yourself all day and make several return trips to the buffet (navigating through the super packed in dining room) don’t bother. Food quality was OK, nothing to write home about, just your traditional southern fried extravaganza.

Jenny Turknett

November 2nd, 2010
9:27 am

Lake721, you’re right – it is a very traditional Southern buffet. And that’s exactly why my dad loves it. There are lots of fried offerings but plenty of non-fried choices, as well. If you’re craving a complete tea room experience, this definitely wouldn’t be the place. If you’re looking for a compromise for the ladies and the men and can put the fact that it’s buffet-style Southern food (rather than tea room fare) on a shelf in the back of your mind, give it a shot!

James

November 2nd, 2010
9:44 am

Sounds like a smart concept. For most men if it’s all you can eat we’ll ignore everything else around us! Enjoyed the post – might have to try this place out with my wife sometime soon.

LindaB

November 2nd, 2010
1:16 pm

Based on two visits, I agree with Lisa and lake721: overpriced and not very tasty. But Jenny is right that it’s very popular, so perhaps we are in the minority.

James

November 2nd, 2010
2:41 pm

Yep, sometimes it’s not all about the food… ;)

GRITSIAM

November 2nd, 2010
3:27 pm

They used to be great on Friday and Saturday nights when they added seafood to the buffet (including crab legs). Now they charge you a la carte for the crab legs and it is not worth the drive from Alpharetta or the cost.

NICOLE

November 3rd, 2010
10:11 am

I pass this place everyday and I went there for my birthday this year after hearing people talk about it all the time. It was packed when we got there, as it usually is, but my husband and I didn’t have a problem navigating through the people to get our food. It is a bit pricey unless you make several trips to the buffet. The fried chicken is way over-rated, but it was still good. We did go on the weekend when they have crab legs and shrimp, and it was not charged a la carte…it was included in our price for the buffet. Overall the experience was nice…the atmosphere was very different than any other restaurant I’d been to, but I highly doubt we’ll ever go back.

Cindy Stovall

November 3rd, 2010
10:17 am

Try Journey’s End in Loganville,sister restaurant to The Blue Willow.Same recipes,lower prices.

Lucy@acookandherbooks

November 3rd, 2010
4:55 pm

It’s been a few years, but I liked the Blue Willow Inn, especially the fried green tomatoes with tomato chutney. Love the chutney.

Joe McKaughan

November 3rd, 2010
8:33 pm

Living on it’s reputation: forgetaboutit!

Babyboomergranny5

November 4th, 2010
6:38 am

While buffets are not my favorite places, I can always find some good things to eat at the Blue Willow Inn and it’s a place my husband will go willingly. Of course, we are senior citizens always on the lookout for some of the types of food they serve. We frequently try some of these small places around us that say “home cooking” but many have food that is yuk (right out of a can). Some other seniors must enjoy the Blue Willow Inn from the number of bus loads that arrive every time I’ve been there. Being on a fixed budget, we eat out at lunch when the cost is less and use the discount coupons Blue Willow has periodically. We do enjoy eating at Journey’s End in Loganville about once a week although their buffet is much more limited. We get there when they first put food out at 11 a.m. not after it’s been on the steam table a few hours. We like their Tuesday vegetables the best. Their prices are lower and they have senior discounts and coupons. But for a birthday or special lunch or when I can–given the choice I’ve definitely chosen the Blue Willow Inn for a little Southern charm and atmosphere, and with many choices of meats, vegetables, and desserts I can find plenty to eat that I enjoy. Recently I took two of my grandchildren (ages 6 and 8) and they are asking me to take them back to Blue Willow–vegetables and all.