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Archive for the ‘Family and Chain Places’ Category

Recently, I had the chance to have dinner at The Downwind. In full disclosure, I have eaten at this restaurant before and I have a close friend who has previously worked there. With that said, The Downwind has since made some changed to the bar, the decor, and the food. I was dining with two other people for this review and the photos did not turn out all that great. We arrive on a weeknight around 7pm and there were a number of people eating both inside and in the outdoor seating area. Just as a note, the outdoor seating area overlooks the taxi and runways of the Spruce Creek Fly-In Airport.

For the three of us, we ordered the Cheese Sticks as a starter. Though, they were not handmade, gourmet quality cheese-sticks, they were good.

Dinner for two people at the table consisted of this portabella sandwich. The sandwich was quite tasty and came with either waffle fries, potato salad, or chips. Below is the potato salad which is worth noting as it contained ham. Now this is not a big deal in itself, but when ordering a vegetarian item from the menu, we felt that it should be disclosed that the potato salad contains ham. But, the waitress was very courteous in bringing a large plate of waffle fries to replace the hammy salad.

Picture below is the Blackened Mahi-Mahi sandwich. My only complaint with this sandwich is that the bun was much too large for the piece of fish on it. Either increase the fish or decrease the bun. The waffle fries were delicious as was expected.

Overall, The Downwind has a casual, sports bar type atmosphere and serves quality food at reasonable prices. It should be noted at some point that this restaurant is located in a gated community but can be accessed by the public by telling the guard that you are eating there.

I give The Downwind three forks. Enjoy!

Quality Eats:

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Cheddar’s Casual Cafe is the last of the reviews from our trip to Georgia. We always make a point to stop at Cheddar’s when we are in Macon, as there isn’t one in our area of Florida. Cheddar’s is a chain place but has lots of variety and is fairly cheap. I had lunch with my wife and my father.

First of all, Cheddar’s has these delicious honey butter croissants. This is a reason in itself to visit Cheddar’s. Just walk in and order about 35 of these little guys.

Of course, because we were on a roll with the country home cooking, we ordered up some country vegetables and casseroles. I got green beans, broccoli cheese casserole, and salmon.

Ashley got fries, red beans and rice, corn, and broccoli cheese casserole. Any another croissant. Just a note here. It did not specify that the red beans and rice was in the form of a soup with sausage. This happens a lot in Georgia, though, the non specification of meat items in a vegetable.

My father ordered fried shrimp which was also a hit.

Overall, the service was friendly and timely, the food was good and fairly priced, and the atmosphere was that of a casual neighborhood bar and grill. I guess it should also be noted that there are large TV in each room that display the local sports games that are going on. Also, we arrived around 12:30p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and despite the gigantic crowd inside and outside of the restaurant, we only waited about 15-20 minutes.

All in all Cheddar’s gets four forks in the Family and Chain Places category.

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We love country food, down home cooking, southern food. But, we can only handle so much of it before going crazy, throwing our digestive tracks out of whack and feeling sluggish and fatty 90% of the time. We headed out on our own in Georgia to find a nice hippie restaurant and imagine our surprise when we found this:

A brand new Mellow Mushroom. Mellow Mushroom is a pizza and beer joint done the hippie way. They have tons of pizzas with colorful flair and a huge selection of drinks including organic beer (my favorite!). Full disclosure: I have dined in a Mellow Mushroom once before. I did, however, just now learn while looking at their website that the first Mellow Mushroom was started in 1974 by three college students and was located near Georgia Tech. Who knew?

Alas, the food. We ordered the pretzels for an appetizer. They were delicious, as noted by the fact that I forgot to take a photo until we had eaten some already. Oops.

Here is a nice shot of the atmosphere. This is a brand new and huge building which is very unlike the first Mellow Mushroom that we ate at in Savannah.

Our dinner was a delicious make your own pizza. We had red pepper, mushroom, spinach, and broccoli with pesto and mozzarella cheese. The ingredients were fresh and the pizza was made to order (duh).

The service was great and the waitress even went above and beyond the call of duty finding a cute little icecream shop for us to have dessert. The TV screens shown in the photo up there ^ were playing the Little League World Series and local highschool football games. I liked the atmosphere and the food at the Mellow Mushroom and give it five forks.

Enjoy!

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We searched for miles and miles for a decent place to stop and get a bite to eat on the way from Florida to Georgia. What happened is that we passed all of the good places and then when we wanted to eat we were in a stretch of I-75 that had no exits and no viable options for places that the two of us would be willing to eat, though there were 26 different barbaque pits or stands. Imagine our excitement when Ashley used my phone to Google restaurants and found that there was an Atlanta Bread Co. nearby. Ashley used to live in Gainesville and had eaten at the Atlanta Bread Co. that was there so we knew that it was good. We promptly set out on a journey to find it. After making several wrong turns and a few rights turns, when they should have been lefts, we pulled in to this glorious site:

We ordered up some delicious sandwiches. I got a tuna on wheat and enjoyed every bite of it. Ashley got a paninni with tomato, motz, and pepper. The sandwiches came with chips and a pickle and we both had water. Driving in a car for several hours is not the best time to drink diuretics.

The bread was fresh and soft, the ingredients were tasty, and we were glad to find this type of dining atmosphere in the randomness that is South Georgia. I had to take note of this sign:

This is clearly a chain place but one of the few that I am glad to see anytime. I give Atlanta Bread Company five forks. Enjoy!

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We returned to the scene of the crime: Dawson’s Kitchen. If you read Weekly Update XII on @Vermont, you would have seen some photos from a trip to Georgia that my lovely wife and I took a couple of years ago. We randomly stopped in this little restaurant when we were antique shopping and turns out they make their own peach ice cream and baked goods, and have a hot food bar most days. This trip we made sure that we arrived at the restaurant during a time they were serving the hot food. It was down home cooking and it was delicious. The three of us, including my Granny, each got a vegetable plate with a bread. I got squash casserole, mac and cheese, and collard greens. Ashley got double mac and cheese, and squash casserole. Granny copied me and got the same three things but she had their “brownest cornbread” instead of a roll. This is what delicious and fattening looks like:

This is what Ashley and my Granny look like:

For dessert we had to get the icecream that we remember having on the last trip and it was just as good. It was also frozen solid so we packed it back up and ate it when we got home.

The whole experience was just as I remembered. It felt like being at home in Georgia and getting a nice helping of casseroles, country cooked vegetables, and bread. (Even my picky Granny liked the food, it was one of the few places on this trip that Granny was satisfied with our dining choice.)  They also had many meat options including, you guessed it, fried chicken. This place is family owned and has been around for ages. It gets right what is important in southern cooking, the rich flavors, and the sizable amount of food. I give Dawson’s Kitchen four forks. Enjoy!

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Yoder’s Deitsch Haus (which does not have an actual website, this links to a site with info about it) is  in Montezuma, Georgia and has served as a Mennonite restaurant for many years. Driving to the restaurant is interesting as there is nothing around the area except farmland and the occasional church. I would say it is about a 20 minute drive down a country rode, with the nearest intersection being the interstate exit.

You enter through the front porch which is covered with antique benches and chairs and other treasures. Inside there are two sides. On one side they sell baked goods, pies, and other treats. On the other side, they have a buffet/cafeteria style dining room. You go down the line selecting bread, meat, veggies, dessert, and drink that you want. You pay at the end of the line and sit at whatever table is available. All of the people that work there are dressed in traditional Mennonite dress. The ladies wore what appeared to be hand-made dresses and bonnet type things that have an official name that I don’t know.

I got sweet tea (in Georgia you have to specify if you want unsweetened tea, unlike Florida where it’s the other way around), turnip greens, squash casserole, and butter beans (Lima beans for you non-southern raised people). I also had buttermilk pie for dessert. Look it up. Everything was delicious and cheap.

My lovely wife (btw, I was referred to as a ‘him’ by someone in the line. I was not offended but given the location, I did not turn around to clarify with the woman) had this lovely roll, squash and broccoli cheese casserole and cherry pie.

All in all Yoder’s was worth the drive. We enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. I consider it a “family place” and give it four forks. Enjoy!

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Rivergate Coffee Shoppe is a small family owned diner that is open for lunch and breakfast only.  I ate here with my wife and her parents prior to a daily outing together.  We went for breakfast around 8:15 a.m. and found the place almost full.  At times people were standing to wait for a table.  This little breakfast spot offers a variety of breakfast choices including eggs, omelets, french toast, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, etc. The food is what I would call “down home cooking.”

Our breakfasts came out hot and all together.  Despite how busy it was the service wasn’t bad.  I had a mushroom and swiss cheese omelet, which was delicious, a side of grits that filled half of the plate, and a biscuit.  The other people had eggs, hash-browns or home-fries, and toast.

For the prices, which were reasonable, I think that this little coffee shoppe was well worth it.  I would venture to guess that they offer a consistent breakfast.  I love breakfast and I love down home cooked breakfast, so I would return to this place anytime I’m looking for a those things.  I give it three forks. Enjoy!

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