What America Tastes Like

The South – Georgia

At the Heaven Cafe:

Oh, my goodness.

My fingers just typed that without my permission. They didn’t stop to consider the fact that I am a large white man.

It would sound bizarre at best if I said “Oh, my goodness” out loud. But I enjoyed the food here so much that I can’t make myself hold backspace over it. It is true.

This is exactly the food I was looking for in the South.

In Atlanta and rural areas beyond the city, we searched for simple and rich food made well. Time after time, I would sit down and hope for something like this meal.

“We made it!” yelled my heart to my brain when I took my first bite here.

The Biscuits and Sausage Gravy – Flawless. Copious.

I have made dozens and dozens of attempts to find a satisfying rendition of this classic. In the Pacific Northwest, at first I was first frustrated at what I was served. Eventually, I became angry at myself for ordering biscuits and gravy in Seattle. In the Midwest, the frustration level rose. After failed attempts in the South, despair began to set in. For something so incredibly simple, an acceptable version of this meal eluded me for years.

These biscuits are perfect. Fluffy on the bottom, crisp on the top and creamy in the middle. Flavors are toasty and full of butter and buttermilk.

The sausage gravy is made with crumbled, browned sausage that didn’t come out of a plastic chub. The gravy tastes of real cream, the heaviness is cut by an overtone of garlic that conjures a subtle savory corona that floats over the whole dish.

Also, it’s worth noting:

The waitress, looking at a 250lb man, asked if I really wanted the “full order of biscuits and gravy” instead of a “half-order.” I thought she was joking around with me until I saw the plate.

Get “extra gravy.” You may never get this much love on an $8 plate again.

The Collard Green Spring Rolls  – are full of pork and goodness, making you wonder how you haven’t seen this done before.

The Lobster and Crab Beggar’s Bites – are full of real seafood.

The Pepper Jack Grits – are the best grits ever. Which is to say, all grits should be made however they do these. I’ve never quite understood grits. In fact, I ordered these as my “final grits,” just to put the issue of whether or not I like grits to bed. Before these, I thought maybe I just don’t care much about granules of ground corn swollen with water.

These must be made with milk or magic or heavy cream instead of water. The end result doesn’t remind me of pepper jack cheese, but instead tastes like corn and cream reaching their synergistic potential.

Chicken Strip – I ordered a single strip a la carte out of curiosity, and it blew me away. You can taste that the breast meat was marinated before being fried in a batter that blossoms fluffily in the fryer. A batter full of buttermilk, rich and flavorful and crisp.

The Sweet Potato Pie – is a baseball-sized personal pie that is simple and tender and moist, with a very subtle blend of spices that form an inhalable halo. A wisp of maple-syrup sauce brings out the natural sweetness of the root vegetable without any hint of sugaryness.

Yes, I had biscuits and gravy and a piece of chicken and grits and seafood beggar bites and collard green spring rolls.

I’d recommend you do the same.

656 Peeksville Rd
Locust Grove, Georgia


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