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West Cobb Diner review


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I glance at the check and prepare to signal the waitress. Surely they forgot to charge us for something. Four of us just ate three courses for $30? That can’t be right. But it is – at West Cobb Diner.

Chef-owner Chad Martin tells me the restaurant was designed with value in mind. Money is not spent on things “that don’t transfer to the plate.” The utensils and china are inexpensive, and the diner pays for no advertising. The restaurant is sparsely decorated with area photos taken by a local teenager – ones they fit into pre-made frames. The focus is on the food.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Value is expected because it is a diner, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. West Cobb Diner is not a typical diner. You’ll hear the expected din of crowded conversation and dishes clanking in the open kitchen, but that’s where the parallels end. Warm wood tones replace the classic stainless steel vibe – traces of the Atlanta Bread Co. that originally inhabited the space.

The “diner” moniker, a catchall term, was chosen to free Martin from constraints in menu design. The food is not all standard diner fare. Instead, you’ll find items with a decided Southern slant. The Southern comfort foods such as fried chicken (lunch $7/dinner $10) and meatloaf ($7/$9) are interspersed with Asian- and Latin-inspired dishes such as the Thai rice noodle salad ($6) with sesame tuna ($3) or the zesty blackened-shrimp and mango salad ($8).

After some difficulty narrowing our selections from the lengthy menu, we order black-eyed pea cakes ($5) and fried-green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade ($5). We are most intrigued by the three huge herb-flecked pea pancakes. Crème fraîche and a heavenly smoky-tomato jam grace the top of each cake, a mixture of mashed and whole black-eyed peas. The jam is made in-house by smoking whole tomatoes, pureeing them and cooking them down with a bit of honey, balsamic and lemon zest.

Photo by Becky Stein

Vegetable plate: only $6! (Photo by Becky Stein)

The kids receive their cheap eats ($3.50 including drink) shortly after we complete our appetizers. Easily the best I’ve had, the chicken fingers – cousin to the menu’s thyme and black pepper adult version – exemplify the dichotomy of the perfectly crunchy exterior with a moist interior oozing with juices. It is one of the rare occasions I am tempted by what’s on my child’s plate. Only with great restraint do I avoid snarfing more than a few bites of the chicken.

Fortunately, our value-priced, super-size meals follow closely behind. The mesquite skillet pork chops ($8/$11) bear resemblance to the chicken – perfectly cooked with a moist-juicy interior. The pork chops are dressed with a slightly over-sweet Granny Smith apple chutney made in-house. As with the green-tomato chutney on the fried chicken, I scrape it to the side – these well-seasoned chops need no accompaniment.

Don’t miss this diner’s vegetable plate ($6) – one that will transport you back to a Southern family potluck. Vegetables smack of down-home Southern recipes – traditional, tried and true. We particularly enjoy the simply prepared squash and onions and the broccoli casserole with large chunks of broccoli and cheddar curds. Another favorite, the stewed okra and tomatoes, contains pork and a hearty broth, reminiscent of Brunswick stew.

Unlike most diners, West Cobb doesn’t serve breakfast all day. If you make it before 10:30 a.m., try the three-meat omelet ($7) with bacon, sausage, ham and cheddar. Rich, hearty and low-carb, it has great depth of flavor.

Whether you are looking for breakfast or not, you should arrive early – this joint is packed. The locals have discovered the value in West Cobb Diner’s food. If I lived nearby, I might heed my daughter’s request: “Mommy, I think I want to come here often.”

WEST COBB DINER
3451 Ernest Barrett Parkway, Marietta, 770-422-7717
2stars5
Food: Southern diner
Service: Well-intentioned but inexperienced and overwhelmed at times
Best dishes: Mesquite skillet pork chops, three-meat omelet, kids’ chicken fingers, vegetable plate
Vegetarian selections: Appetizers, vegetable plate, salads
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays
Children: Yes
Parking: Shared lot
Reservations: No
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Moderate to loud
Patio: Yes
Takeout: Yes
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15 comments Add your comment

Sue

March 24th, 2011
9:09 am

I love this place – you really should have considered adding a star. Because it does merit a drive if you’re looking for this kind of dining. I love the variety and everything I have had there has been a hit. Really love the shrimp and mango salad.

nancy

March 24th, 2011
9:55 am

I agree with Sue – this restaurant is a stand out in Cobb County. It has been packed from the very first night it opened! If I could eat there every day without gaining 50 lbs. I would. The staff are great and make a point to remember you each time you dine. The very best value/quality for the dollar in West Cobb.

Ryan Fitzgerald

March 24th, 2011
11:36 am

Great write up, appropriate star rating. Great addition for the West Cobb area.

West Cobber

March 24th, 2011
3:13 pm

Love their food! Eat their almost bi-weekly! However, we’ve been getting takeout lately because their booth seating is very uncomfortable. The booth seats need replacement as they all have sink holes and blowouts!

Matt

March 24th, 2011
3:36 pm

A very good review. I do think it might merit another star, but there is so many good eats in the area that it’s hard to say it deserves a drive past a lot of other good options. Still, I’m very glad it’s only 10 minutes or less for us in Powder Springs.

By the way, contrary to the checklist, it DOES have a patio. (Or at least it did last fall when we went.) It’s off to the left, kind of around the corner, and we enjoyed it quite a bit.

Jenny Turknett

March 24th, 2011
3:43 pm

Thanks for the update on the patio, Matt. I did not see it when I was there. I have updated the list!

Food King

March 24th, 2011
5:00 pm

Good food (not exceptional) but very average service the 3 times I’ve been there. The servers don’t know the menu well and the service is inconsistent (don’t come back to fill water / tea glasses, etc.)

Gobble Girl

March 24th, 2011
6:47 pm

Nice write up but does deserve another star!! The Food is exceptional…. Service is great. Patio is great now that spring is in the air…..Do love this place.

Max

March 24th, 2011
8:20 pm

Love the WCD! Been coming here ever since they opened and have yet to have a bad experience. Bring many out of towners and it’s always a hit. The daily specials keep the menu fresh for us frequent diners. Jenny, I agree with you, but feel they deserve another star. Folks, it’s worth the drive!!

Sweaty Teddy

March 25th, 2011
1:20 pm

Just got done polishing off the fried Chicken Sandwich for lunch (awesome and only $7). This place is dine-o-mite! I eat here at least once or twice a week. Wait staff is superb, food is tremendous, portions are almost over-welming, and it’s a great value. Breakfast is fabulous as well. If you have not tried it you are really missing out.

Gregg (aka 3G)

March 25th, 2011
1:40 pm

I agree with the “Sweaty” character. The amount of food you get for the money cannot be matched. I’ve tried almost everything on the menu and have not been dissapointed yet. On several occasions, they’ve made me dinners at request that were not even on the menu. Their fish tacos are to die for and another favorite is the occasional pork chops cordonbleu (?) special. A mimum of 3 stars deserved in my opinion.

tasty

March 25th, 2011
2:03 pm

I’ve been to WC diner a couple of times and have been very satisfied. The food has been great, and it’s an awesome value. I agree with the rating – I think they’d probably have to bring up the atmosphere and service some to be a legitimate “3 star” contender, but I’m not sure that’s even the restaurant they want to be. It’s not necessarily a place you’ d go to impress a date, for example. But if you want a tasty plate of food but without plunking down a lot of cash, you could do a lot worse!

Grasshopper

March 28th, 2011
6:38 pm

It’s good…but they need to put a lid on the salt shaker. Everything taste like it has been dragged across a salt lick.

Susy

March 28th, 2011
7:10 pm

Great place to eat! And you’re not kidding when you do a double-take when the tab comes. So much great food for the money. The country fried steak is so big it hangs over both sides of the plate. Definitely enough for dinner and to have again for lunch the next day. The fried pickles are to die for…we get them every time we go. Love the zucchini! And the desserts are sinful! This is my new favorite place to eat! Another star is definitely deserved…I drive past lots of stuff to eat here!

Ok Food, Bad Management

March 31st, 2011
8:02 am

Initially we liked the food and prices, but after a few visits flaws crept in. Meat loaf that had apparently been slow cooked for a week was mushy with no texture. Same with other dishes on various plates. This of course will happen now and again, but it was the way the management handled the situation that convinced us to go elsewhere. When alerted to the poor condition of the dish the waitress just nodded and said it happens while they keep it warm for extended periods of time. No, can I get you something else; no, can I get you a manager, just here’s the bill. Next visit someone else’s dish was bad and same attitude from the wait staff. When a manager was called over she seemed to have cared less. Just a half-ass excuse about the quality of the food, oh and here’s your check with no consideration for the poor food. There won’t be a third time.

Certainly our experience may not be the norm but when a restaurant can’t take care of the diner with legitimate concerns with the food, I don’t trust them to manage the kitchen either. I’m sure they would just as well not bother with addressing problems when they apparently have enough business to stay open. But given the myriad of dining choices I’ll take my business elsewhere. I wouldn’t care if they were the cheapest place in town, but a minimal level of customer care is expected.