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Atlanta Classic, Greenwood’s on Green Street

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

In 1986, Bill Greenwood didn’t want you to eat his fried chicken.

His Roswell restaurant, Greenwood’s on Green Street, had only been open a few months, and Greenwood, a classically

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

 trained chef from Maryland, was working the line by himself. At the time, he served a run-of-the-mill white-meat fried chicken, and as the lone man spinning plates in the kitchen, the 30-minute cooking time routinely put him in the weeds and frustrated the more impatient customers.

Despite his desire to get out of the fried chicken game, members of his staff vehemently opposed pulling it off the menu. So he hatched plans to make a fried chicken his customers would never order.

First? Double the portions to a half bird. Then remove the skin entirely before frying and coat the breading in hot pepper vinegar and honey. Finally, charge customers a then-staggering $4.25 a serving. Once customers rejected his

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

 bizarre chicken, the problem would take care of itself.

But after his customers got their first taste of his unique chicken, they were hooked. The thick batter comes off in chunks — perfect for midmeal snacking — and the juxtaposing sweetness of the honey against the coarse black pepper and vinegar makes for a fried chicken ($14.95) that bucks tradition and can’t be found anywhere else in town. Greenwood had an accidental hit on his hands, and it hasn’t changed or left the menu for 26 years.

Since then, Greenwood’s grew into a staple for Southern-inspired comfort food for the residents of Roswell and the rest of metro Atlanta. Over the years, the converted bungalow expanded, adding a transplanted log cabin preserved from the 1790s and installed intact in the dining room, where you will still see Greenwood making the rounds. Outside, you enter through a funky garden courtyard, lush and borderline unkempt; it evokes the slightly wild yard your old hippie neighbor won’t keep in check, complete with a peace sign greeting you on the curb.

While the fried chicken gets the most attention, ask longtime patrons which dish keeps bringing them back, and you’ll find that Greenwood isn’t a one-trick pony in the kitchen.

Perhaps it is the hearty brown gravy or the heap of grilled onions that makes the thick slab of grilled meatloaf ($15.95) another veteran of 20-plus years on the menu, but Greenwood attributes its success to the fact that it is actually made in the style of a denser, meatier country pate. And I can’t remember a more belly-warming bowl of chicken pot pie ($13.95), honed over the years to just the right amount of seasoning — not too bland and not too salty. Buttery boneless pork chops drenched in sage butter ($15.95) are a frequent object of order envy.

Though Greenwood’s only has nine staple entrees, you can expect as many specials scrawled on the marker board as you enter. This is where you will find most of the fish, as Greenwood vigilantly holds to sourcing his seafood like catfish and North Georgia rainbow trout when they are at their freshest, so they come and go frequently. But if anything on the board comes topped with the lemon chive butter, rest easy that you’ll probably enjoy it.

Fried green tomatoes ($6.95), thick sliced and breaded with a crunchy panko crust and tomato basil sauce, are

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

 another fixture on the board and a great way to start a meal. That is, assuming you manage to restrain yourself from wolfing down the complimentary corn bread muffins as soon as you sit down. You may occasionally spot servers from Greenwood’s barbecue restaurant, Swallow at the Hollow, snagging a few baskets of the sweet muffins to bring back across the street to sweet-talking regulars there.

Every entree comes with your choice of two sides — often the show-stealers of a meal — and Greenwood doesn’t mess much with tradition here. The rich and cheesy broccoli casserole, really more casserole than broccoli, won’t leave you dieters feeling guiltless, but you won’t care. You can’t go wrong with a choice of the four veggie plate ($8.75) for your meal, and if you must have a leafy green, make sure to include an order of collard greens to balance the mashed sweet potatoes and brown rice and gravy.

Though you probably won’t, try to save room for a slice of one of the enormous homemade pies ($20 whole/$5.95 slice). An easy six inches from pan to peak, each slice is a whopping quarter of a pie, and usually plenty to share amongst the table.

If you want a taste of a Southern classic, you’ll likely leave Greenwood’s happy. If for nothing else, you definitely won’t leave hungry.

 

Greenwood’s on Green Street — Roswell
Food: Southern-inspired classics
Service: Sweet, Southern charm
Best dishes: Fried chicken, pork chop, meatloaf and pie
Vegetarian selections: a dozen veggie sides
Price range: $-$$
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Children: welcome
Parking: pretty tight
Reservations: for parties of 10 or more
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: moderate
Patio: three outdoor seating areas
Takeout: yes

10 comments Add your comment

PJ

November 29th, 2012
1:01 pm

Greenwood’s is one of my all-time favorite places. The boneless pork chops with sage-butter sauce are my go-to order and I can’t resist the chocolate cream pie, for which I am ever grateful that it is being offered across the street at Swallow as well. Bill used to make the very best crab soup as a special – haven’t seen it on the board for a few years now (please bring it back!!). Crab soup & warm corn muffins were standard take-out for us when our kids were tiny & we wanted a cozy dinner at home. Now, my kids won’t let us go to Greenwood’s without them – they ask to go just for the pie, but will wait patiently to split a plate of fried chicken with a side of creamy, cheese grits.

Gary Watkins

November 29th, 2012
1:58 pm

When they have the Plum Rotisere Duck it is best best meal I have ever had. You have to call ahead to make sure they have it, but it is mouth-watering.

g

November 29th, 2012
4:37 pm

Not sure if I can trust this review. Read here that the AJC staff voted the Swallow at the Hollow (also owned by this guy) the best BBQ spot in Atlanta in 2010. Went there a couple of weeks ago and it was absolutely the worst excuse for BBQ I have ever had! they use Cinnamon on their texas toast! Horrible.

[...] Atlanta Classic, Greenwood’s on Green Street [...]

Paul J

November 30th, 2012
9:43 am

WOW! It’s a great post. Really love chicken, and wanna try white-meat fried chicken of Greenwood. Hehehe

Jim_MAY

November 30th, 2012
1:59 pm

Is this really a review? Where are the stars? There are so many new restaurants in Atlanta don’t understand why the bum, nostalgic reviews we are getting these days. Use to gleam with enthusiasm waiting for the Atlanta Dining News to arrive in my email on Friday. Now I yawn for the days when Kessler gave those great reviews, going over each detail of a restaurant, then we could each comment and compare our experiences.

Art

December 1st, 2012
9:58 am

@Jim_MAY, you probably missed the blog entry some many months back where John, Jenny and Jon split up the Atlanta food landscape whereby John and Jenny do actual reviews of new restaurants, Southern and Neighborhood fare while Jon revisits and reminds us of popular eats. Personally I find nothing “bum” about Jon’s writings and enjoy being reminded of, and in some cases made aware of, places that I might not have visited in many months if not years. With regard to Greenwood’s, I’ve been a fan for twenty years but never knew the background behind Bill’s chicken; to me it was a fun read and got me in the mood to head to Green Street very soon.

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December 3rd, 2012
4:30 am

When they have the Plum Rotisere Duck it is best best meal I have ever had. You have to call ahead to make sure they have it, but it is mouth-watering.

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K

December 3rd, 2012
11:21 pm

When I went there, they didn’t have sweet tea; only unsweet. What sort of restaurant that serves Southern-influenced food doesn’t serve sweet tea? It’s been called the table wine of the South, after all. I found the food highly overrated with the exception of the pie, but I’m not waiting almost an hour in line just to eat pie.

Mar -Atl Foodie

December 4th, 2012
1:51 pm

I have eaten there 3 times since it opened and am not t impressed. The apple pie was mushy, there was way too much salt in the broccoli and parm dish. Someone must like this place, but with so many other places to eat, I have moved on.