As I’ve said before, the genesis of this blog was the quest for the perfect burger. I’m always asking folks, after I meet them, “where is your favorite burger in your home town?”. And people are often sending me links or articles when they hear about a great burger.
One of Jo’s friends gave her an article from Southern Living’s Georgia Living insert, detailing their “10 Favorite Burger Spots”. One of the spots, A&A Grocery & Restaurant (which actually says “A & A Restaurant and Convenience” on their marquee, and answers their phone “Chicken Place” when you call) caught my eye. I’d never heard it mentioned anywhere else. It was close to I-16 (the most desolate stretch of road for good food in the state of GA – unless you want to eat at Zaxby’s or Longhorn or Cracker Barrel). And, with a daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law in Savannah, we do spend some time on I-16.
That was back in July and I’ve been plotting a time to get by there ever since. Today, as I had an unexpected drive back from southeast Georgia (travel plans changed due to the potential impact of Sandy on East Coast airplane flights) and I was rolling into Dublin about 5:30, it seemed like a perfect chance to give it try.
As I headed up one of the innumerable state roads that lead from Jesup to Dublin, I Googled the place, found a phone number, called and found out that they took the last order at 7:00. Allentown is about 20 miles East of Dublin on I-16. I arrived around 6:00 and ordered a cheeseburger and then realized that they didn’t take debit cards and I had no cash. I asked the cook / waitress / cashier if there was an ATM nearby and she pointed out the bank across the street and said that she’d go ahead and start the burger.
When I returned it wasn’t ready quite yet, so I asked if they could add bacon (“Sure!”), filled my tea glass from the pitcher on the counter and took a seat. The convenience side of the place (the right 30% – including a video poker machine and the bathroom) contained a single, two-sided, shelf with some condiments and crackers. (I don’t imagine they make a ton of money from that side of the house). The restaurant side was the left 70% of the place, starting with the pass-thru, with a steam table inside, that led to the kitchen. There were half as many people in the kitchen (six), as there were in the restaurant (twelve).
Half of the twelve were seated at the same center table, with an average age of seventy. Every one in the kitchen knew every one in the place, except for, of course, me.
- The fries weren’t that good; and
- The ketchup was watery Hunts’.
- The burger was wonderful! A home-made, griddle-fried, half-pound (estimated) patty on a chewy white bun, slathered with mustard, mayo and ketchup, topped with (an unseasonably good) tomato and crunchy bacon. It was excellent.
Quite an unexpected surprise. Thanks, Southern Living (and Tina, who gave Jo the article.) There was one other odd thing – the table tops in the booths were covered in ads for local establishments, including at least two other restaurants…