Ok, so, everyone is always raving about this place. Talking about it like it’s the be all, end all of Southern cuisine. Well, my friends, I’m here to tell you that it’s not.
In fact, it was quite a disappointment. You wouldn’t expect this, considering the constant accolades you hear about this downtown restaurant. I actually had dinner there several years ago with my friend Ms. Spark and didn’t love it then, either. But, being the fair person that I am, I decided to give it another chance. And, duh, we were on G and say “name a G restaurant” to anyone in this area and, undoubtedly, they’ll say “OOOH OOOH OOOH, Georgia Brown’s!”
Well, I wish they hadn’t. While the food wasn’t horrible, the service and overall “feel” of the night left much to be desired. I guess, though, I will talk about the food (and drink!) first.
We all started with a drink of the alcoholic variety. I had the “Muddy Waters,” which was fresh squeezed lemonade, raspberry vodka, and Bacardi Limon…with a mint leaf floating along the top. The delicate pink drink filled the martini glass to the rim and resembled a Cosmo…but tasted much better. One of my companions had a white sangria, which was a little sweeter than she expected. The glass was filled with ice and pieces of fruit, obviously limiting the amount of liquid served. The last cocktail was one that had a variety of summer fruit flavors mixed into it–some Peach Schnapps, some watermelon, and some lemonade. This selection was cool and refreshing. The wine list was not spectacular but had something for the two who chose that route. Cocktails are all $11.
On to the appetizers. Guess what we ordered. Give up? Come on…ok, I’ll tell you. The deviled eggs, of course! They were very mustardy, in my opinion, and the white part (is there a name for that?) was cold and rubbery. Definitely the least delicious of all of the eggs we’ve had thus far. They were topped with bacon (bonus!) and came sitting atop a pile of [cold] potatoes O’Brien. An interesting combination but not a stellar selection on our part. The fried green tomatoes or, perhaps, the appetizer sampler (fried green tomatoes, cornmeal-crusted catfish fingers, crispy chicken livers and bacon wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese) may have provided us with a better introduction to the meal.
Speaking of introductions to the meal, I can’t forget to mention the bread basket. That may have been the highlight for me. The biscuits were hot and buttery and just the right amount of bland (you know what I’m talking about). Along with the biscuits came what I will call cornbread sticks. They, too, were served warm. Both were perfect vessels for the creamy butter–it was soft and spreadable and had a hint of maple flavoring which was nice (and not as overpowering as the taste of honey in honey butter).
Moving on to entrees…to be different, I ordered the garlic and herb marinated lamb with cauliflower parsnip mash, carrot ginger reduction, lamb glace and a house-made apple mint jelly. What arrived in front of me was a big piece of lamb, covered in a pesto and reeking of cumin. The side was wild rice riddled with raisins and pine nuts. Um, excuse me, Mr. Waiter. I don’t think this is what I ordered? He looked at me a second and said, “Oh, yes, we don’t have that. I should have told you that, I apologize.” I ended up ordering the sweet tea marinated fried chicken (with mashed potatoes and collard greens), which is what I ordered the last time I was there. The chicken was cooked well and not dry and you could taste the sweetness (though very slight) of the sweet tea. It was not bad, but Popeye’s would have been just as good.
Two of my dining partners ordered the Louisiana “Devil” Shrimp–tender Gulf shrimp stuffed with Georgia Brown’s crab cakes, served with sauteed spinach, macaroni and cheese, and a sweet and spicy chipotle sauce. These diners were less persnickety than I and had nothing bad to say about their meals. In fact, they took the leftovers home with every intention of enjoying the leftovers (while I, on the other hand, handed mine over to the person to my right and told her to take them home to her husband).
I will digress a moment to talk about the macaroni and cheese because, of course, we ordered a side to share among us. It was quite good–creamy and cheddary. The elbow macaroni was a little soft but it worked with the texture of the cheese. For the $5 side charge, you recieve a significant pile of macaroni and it was plenty for three of us to share.
The last two entrees that my tablemates tried were the gumbo and the peanut chicken. The gumbo was your traditional conglomeration of shrimp, andouille sausage, crab, chicken, and duck with okra, celery, onions, peppers, and red rice. A little something for everyone, don’t you think? The rice was cooked well and the overall texture was not slimy or gummy, as gumbo can tend to be when not properly executed. The peanut chicken came with smashed redskin potatoes, emerald shoe-peg corn and finished with a honey maple peanut sauce. This diner continued with the peanut theme she inadvertently created and had the farmer’s market salad, a mixture of hand selected local greens, cucumbers, sweet corn, onions, tomatoes, spiced peanuts and goat cheese with a lemon vanilla vinaigrette. Each of her selections were good, but nothing to write home about.
Side note: several of my companions were a bit taken aback by the abundance of duck on the menu (unexpected option) and the fact that it is referred to as duckling. As one friend said, “I do not need to know that it is a baby duck, do I?”
On to dessert. Deviating from our usual post-entree gluttony (I admit, I am usually the one to goad the others into ordering too many desserts), we ordered one serving of the banana pudding. It came served in a small mason jar. The sides of the jar were lined with what seemed to be lady fingers. I tasted no actual bananas (ie there was banana pudding but no actual fruit) and found it to mostly be soggy ladyfingers and a lot of whipped cream. Again, nothing to write home about.
Mind you, by the time dessert came along, we had been sitting at the table for almost two hours. When we finally got the waiter to give us the check, it was 10:00. We already had our cards out and ready to pay. He took them. And disappeared. For 25 minutes!! We have no idea what took him so long or why it was so difficult to ring us up (by this time, the crowded restaurant had emptied by almost 50%). We had the manager go back and see what was going on and he returned, saying “he’s doing something back there with your cards.” Well, I hope not! Finally, we got our receipts and were on our way.
All in all, I would not recommend Georgia Brown’s…the food wasn’t anything spectacular and the service was undeniably horrible. I’m glad that I gave it a second chance, but Ms. Brown is not going to get a third one from this eater. I realize that this opinion goes against the majority (based on popularity) but to those who disagree I challenge you to give good, solid reasons why this restaurant is one worth recommending.