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Mary Mac's, Watershed, Greenwood's on Green Street, JCT Kitchen, or Blue Willow for a weekend Southern meal?

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I grew up in the South, so I am very familiar with both country-style cooking and "fussed up" Southern. I'll be in town this weekend and am wondering which of the above (likely able to go to two) are worthwhile. I've been to Mary Mac's before and think they do a pretty fine job with classic Southern and sides, but I haven't been in about three years. The others are a complete mystery to me. Is Blue Willow worth the drive out to the "country"?

Of the more upscale options - Watershed, JCT, and Greenwood's (which straddles the line a bit) - which ones are worthwhile? Scott Peacock is no longer at Watershed, so it's an unknown quantity. I'm especially a fan of veggie sides (not vegetarian, but just like fresh farm vegetables - no problem if they are cooked with pork or fatback).

Other options I've seen mentioned here and there are:
-Wisteria
-Holeman & Finch

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  1. Did you rule out Colonnade? Most on this Board give at a thumbs up over Mary Mac's, especially when food is the priority over setting or ambiance. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with the Collonade's ambiance. Depends on what one is expecting. Check photos here: http://atlanta.citysearch.com/profile... reviews here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/colonnade-res...
    If you have about 5 minutes watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VImuSV...

    I particularly like their yeast rolls.

    I heard a negative comment recently about Blue Willow. I think it was something like "not worth the price and long drive anymore". I haven't eaten there in many years. But I'm sure there is at least one negative comment about almost any choice you would make.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JHLI

      Thanks. For my "fussed up" meal I've decided to go with Empire State South, a new Grant Acheson place that just opened last week in Midtown. Chef de cuisine is of a Bayonna (New Orleans) and Highlands Bar and Grill (Frank Stitt) pedigree. With Watershed losing Scott Peacock, I'm interested to see whether ESS can carry the mantle.

      Will look into Collonade for my casual Southern meal. I had watched one video on the place where it looked like they were doing steaks, seafoods, and pastas dishes too, so I'm wondering whether they spread themselves too thin. Also wondering whether they use fresh veggies as opposed to the canned variety.

      1. re: mikeh

        I've wondered about the veggies at Collonade myself. I'm not a huge fan actually. My visits coincide with extended family and one in particular who occassionally makes it a birthday gathering spot. I do like the fried chicken and, as I said, especially the yeast rolls.. I read that others really like to eat there and often do. I don't live nearby. That youtube video makes it look like they may be spreading the menu out a bit too much to retain consistently good southern style food. If I was a regular more variety might be a plus but if you are looking specifically for southern food I don't know.

        I think Matthews Cafeteria in Tucker has fried chicken as good or better. Matthews also has excellent brunswick stew, turkey and dressing, chicken and dumplings, etc. on different days. I worked in a nearby office park so it was a regular lunch spot. Not a lot of places to choose from if you want a variety of veggies for lunch in that area and I am a fan of their mashed potatoes and fried okra, sweet potato souffle. Good desserts too. I read they serve fresh veggies but I would not guarantee it. I like their food but some I know do not like the southern style well cooked veggies. The inside has a worn-out 50's cafeteria look and would not come close to matching the atmosphere at the places you mention. You don't go there for the ambience - you go for the consistently good cafeteria-style food. If you ever happen to be in that area you might try it.

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        Matthews Cafeteria
        2299 Main St, Tucker, GA 30084

        1. re: JHLI

          I'm pretty sure the veggies at Colonnade are slightly modified Sysco stuff. Probably not any different than Mary Mac's, nor any different than they've always done. The entrees are generally a good deal and well prepared.

          I haven't been to Matthews, though I've always heard good things.

          Was thinking about the fried okra at Colonnade (and how it's likely pre-breaded and frozen), and it made me think of something else. I love the fried okra at Six Feet Under (we go to the Westide one, not the link below)- whole pods sliced in half lengthwise. It's more of the cheap fish shack than Southern place, but they do good stuff (and have good beers/views).

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          Six Feet Under
          437 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

    2. For what it's worth, I have been a huge Watershed fan for years and have not noticed any slip in quality post-Peacock. JCT Kitchen is always excellent. Please let us know about Empire State!