Restaurant Review - Perfect setting
Menu may be limited, but Flowery Branch Cafeteria's cooking keeps 'em coming back
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves has yet to prove he is a good judge of personnel, but he has never failed me when it comes to recommending modest little places to eat.
When the team's headquarters was located in Suwanee, he directed me to Dillard's, a marvelous barbecue place. Now that the team has moved to Flowery Branch, he has become a patron of Flowery Branch Cafeteria (or Café, depending at which sign you happen to be looking).
It is a different world in Flowery Branch. Odd, old, small buildings that look as though they are ready to fall down give way to spanking new corporate buildings along the road to the Falcons' new headquarters. The fact that the interchange off I-985 is being widened probably signals the beginning of the end of the little town's rural charm. There can only be more fast-food outlets in the offing and that is never good.
Even so, I expect Flowery Branch Cafeteria to survive. This is the kind of place that has regulars. Deservedly so. Although the menu is extremely limited, even more so than the usual small meat-and-three — that this is a meat-and-two should tell you something — the food is not quite like what is found in similar establishments.
I'm not saying that Flowery Branch Cafeteria is a gourmet gem in the rough. But the ladies in the kitchen (owners Annette Willis and Deborah Jarrard) aren't just dumping the contents of giant food service cans into the buffet bins, either.
The café's interior is worn in a pleasant way. Some of the red-and-green-accented vinyl seats in the booths in the back room (the designated smoke-free area) are cracked, but the deep green ruffled valances at the windows are welcoming. The café is larger inside than it appears to be from the outside, but not much.
In true country café fashion, desserts come first in the cafeteria line. I, however, have yet to sample any sweets since I have been expending my calories on the main courses and their trimmings. For one thing, there are always homemade biscuits; I consider a well-made biscuit as desirable as a piece of pie any day. (The biscuits are so popular that the FBC does a booming business in those alone, and you can buy gobs of them to go, too.)
Just as good, in my book, is the steamed cabbage, which retains a decent amount of crispness. This is a fine accompaniment to the hefty chunks of faintly savory meat loaf.
Nothing is heavily seasoned here, not even the fried salmon patties, although the crunchy surface adds a certain flavor of its own. The hamburger steak, though, has some character, especially when sloshed around with mashed potatoes and red-eye gravy.
As I mentioned, the offerings are limited — only three or four main dishes as opposed to the typical six or seven. Even so, you are bound to find something you'll like, even if you have to resort to hamburgers and cheeseburgers (for those of you less enamored of the home-cooking genre).
Of course, there is cornbread. And while I have never been up this way early enough for breakfast, I would bet it is good. Oh, it's just eggs and sausage and breakfast biscuits, that kind of thing. But if you are going to go out for breakfast, Flowery Branch Cafeteria is the perfect setting in which to do it.
__Flowery Branch Cafeteria, 4755 Atlanta Highway, Flowery Branch. 770-967-0990. Open for breakfast and lunch, Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Inexpensive; a meat-and-two plate is $5.75. Cash only. Dress: casual. Ambiance: bright and pleasantly worn. No-smoking section. Wheelchair accessible.