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Mistaken identity

The Silver Grill has closed, but the Silver Skillet is alive and cookin'

"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," Mark Twain telegraphed a New York newspaper that had mistakenly published his obituary.

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The folks at the Silver Skillet (200 14th St., 404-874-1388) have been saying the same thing about their restaurant, according to owner Teresa Breckinridge. Business has suddenly dropped because many people think the 50-year-old diner is closed.

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The reason? People have confused the Silver Skillet with the Silver Grill, whose closing in December produced an avalanche of media coverage, including a column by me.

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Breckinridge, who has owned the restaurant for 20 years, took it over from her father, George Drecker, who purchased it in 1967 and operated it for 21 years until his death in 1988.

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"We have no plans to close," Breckinridge told me after I stopped by the diner for lunch last week. "It's been shocking how many people think we're out of business."

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Regulars at the diner don't need to be encouraged to return, but if you've never had breakfast or lunch here, you've missed a classic Atlanta experience. It is probably the most authentic diner left in the city and has been used as the set for movies, music videos and TV commercials. Its yellow walls are plastered with reviews, pictures of diners and, oddly, a collection of '50s-style paintings of horses.

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There's a classic counter with classic pedestal stools that face the service area and kitchen, which you have to walk through to find the restrooms. Specials are scrawled on blackboards alongside letter-boards with regular menu items. Every seat is in a green-and-yellow vinyl booth.

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A craving for the unusually tender (and controversial) country ham and billowy biscuits has often brought me here for breakfast, but lunch is always good, too. Last week, I ordered the special of fried chicken livers over rice and gravy with sides of black-eyed peas and squash casserole. The livers were, unlike the usual around town, creamy and fried in a flour coating that barely clung to them.

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I skipped my usual slice of lemon icebox pie, but you should eat your fill.

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Some Updates

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Last week I briefly reviewed The Standard (327 Memorial Drive, 404-681-3344) but had visited the day before the debut of an expanded menu. So I returned last week to try the specials and additions to the menu.

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Unfortunately, for reasons that were never made clear, the chef had not prepared any specials that evening, but we did get to sample two additions to the regular menu: fried chicken and sauteed grouper. The chicken was a boneless breast served with some mashed potatoes. I prefer chicken that's been fried on the bone — the difference in taste is significant — but this wasn't bad. Wayne's grouper was a study in the pale: white fish, over white rice, served on a white plate. Flavor was good.

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One complaint: The pub appears to be poorly ventilated and if you don't smoke, plan to inhale plenty of second-hand stuff. ...

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I've also returned several times to Dakota Blue (454 Cherokee Ave., 404-589-8002), mainly to binge on a wintry special prepared by chef Tony Stewart. I'm talking about the lamb shepherd's pie. It featured numerous big chunks of tender lamb in a broth with some carrots. Served in a cast-iron skillet, the lamb was topped with mashed potatoes. It was an amazing bargain but, alas, was off the menu when I last went.

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As if to cancel out my good luck, I next ordered a greatly overpriced half a Cornish hen with apricot stuffing that was largely burned, and served with some tasty slices of grilled squash. Just don't bother to serve me a Cornish hen unless you're giving me a whole one. The fault is my own for ordering it. I didn't even notice that the menu said it was only half of one.

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Wayne ordered two more interesting dishes. One was cod simmered with artichokes with a lemony-herb sauce. He also had a huge bowl of gnocchi topped with marinara and grilled sausage. ...

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You know where I'd like to go back to? Tres P's (245 N. Highland Ave.), the Cajun spot I gave a strongly positive review to on Dec. 7. Did you notice I didn't include the phone number after the address in the last sentence? That's because when I call it, I get a message that it's been disconnected.

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No sooner did my review come out than I received several e-mails from people who attempted to have dinner at the restaurant and found it closed. I went on a Saturday night myself and found it closed. Then I heard a rumor that the restaurant is moving to a new location. Whatever!

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Here and there

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Babette's Café is now operating The Pantry at Babette's for takeout of chef Marla Adams' signature items, including sauces, desserts and, most wonderful to me, her terrific cassoulet. The menu changes regularly and it's a good idea to order well in advance. In fact, some items may require 36 hours notice. Check out the website, www.babettescafe .com, and click on the "pantry" button. ...

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Regular readers of Creative Loafing will be interested to learn that our former food editor Bill Addison, who went to work at the San Francisco Chronicle, has resigned after nine months to become lead critic at the Dallas Morning News. Frank Bruni: Watch your back! ...

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Thumbs up to Fifth Group Restaurants. The company has banned the use of trans fats in its six restaurants — Ecco, South City Kitchen (Midtown and Vinings), Sala, La Tavola and the Food Studio. The fats are a major cause of coronary heart disease and premature death. ...

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Reader Mark Siegel has returned from Athens where he feasted on "authentic gyro." He wants to know where in Atlanta he can get the real thing — not something made from "one of those large hunks of processed combined lamb/beef." Drop me a line if you know.



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