I remember reading about the opening of Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall in the Old Fourth Ward several weeks back with a story about their whole pig roast, related to a celebration along the Atlanta Beltline (at mile 9.25). Today, before heading to the Georgia Tech game, I stopped by for a late lunch, parked by the sign above and walked around the wall to find their entrance, which faces the beltline.
I arrived as they were just stopping their “reveille” service, and, as a result, my choices were somewhat limited. I sat at the bar, watching the start of the Georgia-Florida game, looking over my options. The atmosphere was convivial – if we lived close by, I could become a regular quite easily. The decor is like a lodge in the Pacific Northwest with a giant American flag hanging on the back wall and a mural along the side wall with a life-size Grizzly bear and a cool owl sitting in the trees. And all of the food is prepared with a nod to camp, and campfire cooking.
On the post-reveille menu (what they serve between 3:30 and 5:30 on Saturday), they offer what they term a picnic basket, which lets you choose from among their selection of cheese and charcuterie, at $5 each. I chose Benton’s ham (I am a Benton’s fan – historically of their bacon), a house-made mortadella, a cheese and their house made biscuits.
They were out of the biscuits, so I settled for extra toast. The ham was excellent, the mortadella was okay and the cheese was “ripe”, for lack of a better word. While I had waited for my basket, I read the dinner menu and determined that we would need to return.
A few weeks later, we went back for dinner and sampled more of the menu, starting with the Navajo fry bread (I’m a sucker for that stuff, and this was served topped with ham and drizzled with honey). An excellent start. Across the table, they had the house burger – a beef and bacon grind – and the chicken and dumplings, which was served in a cast iron skillet. Jo and I shared the two whole grilled trout with bacon stuffing, a burnt lemon vinaigrette, a charred broccoli salad and sweet potato gratin.
The trouts were grilled excellently, campfire style, and had been fileted before being brought to the table. The charred broccoli salad got mediocre reviews, but the sweet potato gratin was one of the best things I’ve eaten in months. I don’t even like sweet potatoes and this was out of this world. In fact, I raved about it during Thanksgiving week to everyone I saw.
To quote Arnold, “I’ll be back”.