Friday, August 13, 2010

White House Restaurant

3172 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta, GA 404-237-7601

On Tuesday I had lunch at The White House restaurant, a slim but long place located in a non-descript shopping center on Peachtree Rd. in Buckhead. I have driven past White House on the way to the gym at least 3 mornings a week for the past 2.5 years, but I always assumed it was only a breakfast place (like The Original Pancake House). I discovered through the internet that the restaurant is open until 3 pm on weekdays and decided to make it the subject of my next blog post.

Of course, White House serves breakfast food. It’s got everything you’d expect, all sorts of combinations of eggs, bacon, ham, biscuits and grits. There’s fresh fruit, etc.

I decided to get a daily lunch plate, a meat and two sides. Each day the House offers four different meats and five or so vegetables. I chose the chicken fried steak, collard greens and baby lima beans. Since the daily specials are prepared beforehand (and visible under glass at a counter in the front of the restaurant), I received my lunch almost immediately after placing my order.

The baby lima beans were great. Soft but not mushy. Lightly sprinkled with black pepper. The collard greens were the best I’ve had in a long time, perfectly seasoned. Normally I have to liberally salt my greens, but not at White House. Unlike the greens at the chain Folks (which I strongly suspect were dumped out of a can five minutes before serving), these greens were fresh. And the scent of both sides was fantastic. Warm and wonderful, exactly as they tasted.

If only the steak would have measured up to the veggies. I heartily disliked it. It tasted . . . peculiar. It wasn’t the sauce, it was the meat. I don’t know that it was old exactly, it just contained some ingredient that I made me screw up my mouth in distaste. I have a feeling the Greek chicken would have been much better.

White House is much more a diner than a restaurant, and the food is something akin to a Waffle House. Yes, it is more expensive than Waffle House. However, at White House you’ll get friendlier service and this is saying something, because 95% of all the Waffle House staff I’ve encountered has been friendly. My waitress was almost an old-time diner stereotype – smiling, efficient and just talkative enough to make you feel welcome without oppressing you. You’ll get large pictures of former presidents (of both parties) on the walls. You’ll get a much better selection of home-cooked vegetables, and you’ll have the pleasure of personally promoting a family owned establishment. The owners are Greek, which should be pretty obvious once you note all of the Greek items on the menu (think Greek chicken and pastitsio).

Inside, there are groups of middle aged women wearing flowered dresses talking like they just auditioned for Steel Magnolias, and old men with newspapers spread out beside their cups of coffee. It’s a Southern diner, period.

I really, really wanted a biscuit, but alas, I had to refrain because (gasp of horror) Southern Foodie is on a diet! I know - diets are to foodies what Kryptonite is to Superman. It has been a very difficult past two weeks. No pasta, rice, white/orange/yellow veggies, alcohol, bread and very few fruit and dairy items. Hence the reason I’ve done two Japanese restaurant reviews in a row. They’re about the only places where you can manage to avoid all of the above.

And don’t you dare post a comment asking how chicken fried steak made it past all the diet’s stipulations!

Verdict: Avoid the chicken fried steak, but enjoy the veggies. I’ll be back to try the biscuits.

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