Rated 4 Stars

{mosimage}Every time I drive by Georgia Brown’s restaurant on Raeford Road, I am puzzled. I am puzzled by the fact that the parking lot is packed with cars. I am puzzled by the fact that it is still operating after so many years. Why? Because the first time I ate there, not long after it opened, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the service. I didn’t like the sweet iced tea. I didn’t like the shrimp and grits. In all fairness to Georgia Brown’s and to satisfy my own curiosity as to why it still operates after my first less-than-stellar experience, I decided to go back.

On a Monday night, just after 5 p.m., my party and I arrived, went inside and waited to be seated. We waited... and we waited... and we waited. Strange, I thought, as a waitress walked past and gazed at us with a glazed over look in her eyes.

Finally, the owner came over and kindly informed us that Georgia Brown’s is not open for dinner on Monday nights, only for special functions. He politely invited us back on Tuesday night to possibly partake in the popular weekly special of all-you-can-eat baby back ribs. As he looked at my eyes, he must have seen the debate going on inside my head. Georgia Brown’s already had two strikes as far as I was concerned and I was thinking of going somewhere else.

“I tell you what,” he said. “If you come back tomorrow night, dessert is on the house.”

That was it. The deal was done. He had me. I will not pass up the possibility of a rich, decadent dessert and for free! At that moment, I decided that the owner of Georgia Brown’s knows how to do business.

In the exchange that followed, I found out that Georgia Brown’s does not have a head chef, instead counting on all line cooks. Given that slight disadvantage among the world of restaurants, I found out one of the secrets (not really a secret) that more than makes up for that deficiency: They invite their customers to share their favorite Southern recipes. How can you go wrong?

The following evening we came back, very much looking forward to our free dessert. It had been decided ahead of time that we would all get something different, so we could try everything. We arrived just after 5 p.m. It wasn’t busy yet. Our hostess seated us in the second-to-the-worst seat in the house, back in the corner with a straight shot view into the kitchen. The worst seat in the house was across from us back in the corner č you can see nothing from that vantage point.

As we stared into the kitchen and discussed having to sit in the worst seat in the house when the place wasn’t even packed, our waiter came over. He had noticed from across the restaurant that something was amiss.

“Is something wrong? I noticed you all staring into the kitchen.”

Well, I don’t like to complain, but he did ask. 

“Well, yes. Our hostess seated us in the worst seat in the house and you are not even busy yet.”

“Would you like another table?” the young man kindly asked.

“If you don’t mind, we would like that very much.”

“It is not a problem at all. We just want our customers to be happy.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about: GREAT service! I was hooked. 

The waiter had me.

Georgia Brown’s had me.

Writing a restaurant review is not for anyone who wants to be pencil thin. A variety of food has to be consumed to really get the scope of the food quality. Georgia Brown’s has so many tempting dishes to choose from: Savannah grilled shrimp on baby crab cakes; Florida salad; fried green tomatoes; tomato pie; crawfish; catfish; and the list goes on.

The drink of choice would have to be the iced tea. It is a Southern restaurant, after all. The tea is quite good, not my mother’s, mind you, but it is good. It’s hard to find good iced tea in this town.╩

The cuisine can be described as Southern classic, circa 2008. The offerings are not just based on rural North Carolina food, but much of the Southeast region, including Louisiana and even touching on some African influences.

For appetizers, we ordered wings, Brunswick stew and fried green tomatoes. The wings were big and meaty. They were fried to tender, crispy perfection and the sauce was finger-licking good.

Brunswick stew is a southern comfort food that is reminiscent of times past. It is traditionally made with a combination of chicken, pork and beef, lima beans, corn and tomatoes. It is a big deal when a family decides to cook it the old-fashioned way. It has to be cooked overnight for many hours. Everyone has to take turns stirring the pot so that the thickening goodness doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If it does, the whole batch is ruined.

Georgia Brown’s has avoided that problem with a stew that is not as thick at the traditional stew. It has more of a soup-like consistency, but people seem to like it that way. The flavor is exactly like the original, yet delicious and light.

The fried green tomatoes are a signature dish of Georgia Brown’s. The batter is crispy, light and airy.The flavor is slightly sweet at first and then a little salty. One can never tire of this delicious dish.

The ribs with a side of corn on the cob and collard greens were my choice of entree. The meat was tender and plentiful. It fell off the bones. The sauce was... uummmm! The corn was reminiscent of summer. As I took the first bite, my mind created a picture of just picked silver queen corn, each kernel bursting with creamy white goodness, purchased off the back of a local farmer’s old pickup truck. I knew it had to be frozen, but it just did not taste like frozen.

At this point, I couldn’t really eat more, but dessert could not be overlooked. We ordered the fried Twinkies, the peach cobbler and the chocolate pecan pie. They were all very good, but the Fried Twinkies were great! They tasted just like a crisp fall day with Carolina blue skies at the North Carolina State Fair.

After dessert, we were all full and satisfied. I couldn’t leave, however, without trying another famous staple at Georgia Brown’s:╩the tomato pie. In times past, in some of the more rural areas of North Carolina, almost all of the older women made tomato pie for special occasions. Most of the children never tried it because it sounded gross! Well, let me tell you that this tomato pie is the best I have ever eaten. For those of you who have been treated to this southern delicacy, it is much like quiche. Try the tomato pie!

After dinner, the owner, Ron Brewington, came over and engaged us in a pleasant conversation as he does with all of his customers. His passion for food and people is readily evident. He conveys this passion to those who work for him. 

Georgia Brown’s serves tasty and satisfying Southern cuisine with a touch of pure and simple Southern hospitality.

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