Wednesday November 28, 2012
I love a long, leisurely (occasionally frilly) brunch as much as the next person. And at times, I can appreciate creative, over-the-top twists on breakfast: bacon donuts, lobster frittatas, and pancakes stuffed with all sorts of fruits, flavored cream cheeses and meats. But above all morning meals, I love a basic diner breakfast best. Apologies for my second diner posting this month (I previously covered Tally's in Tulsa), but rest assured that I have no plans to bleach my hair, purchase the entire Ed Hardy catalog, or open a universally reviled theme park/restaurant in Times Square. I recently had the good fortune of popping into the iconic Silver Skillet in Midtown Atlanta.
The Silver Skillet is a classic 50's diner through and through. No, not the kind marked by neon lights, shiny chrome and poodle skirt-clad waitresses on roller skates. Johnny Rocket's, this ain't. Rather, it seems that little has changed since it opened in 1956. Well-worn pea green and burnt orange booths line the restaurant as well as a row of the requisite counter stools. Behind the counter you'll see the daily specials on chalkboards as well as old-timey plastic signs advertising the house favorites: country ham steak, ice box pies, hamburger steak and the like. Sure, the Guy Fieri poster commemorating the Silver Skillet's appearance on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives breaks the illusion a bit, but we won't hold that against them (and to Fieri's credit, he made the right call by stopping off here, as did the many celebrities and musicians with photos on display).
As far as the food is concerned, it's some no-frills, decidedly southern diner fare. Grilled or fried pork chops with white gravy, biscuits with your choice of any meat, buttermilk pancakes, and grilled corn beef hash highlight the menu. But anyone worth their salt (and plenty of salt they will get) comes to the Silver Skillet for the signature skillet country ham. Figuring this was not the kind of place you want to order granola and yogurt, I went all the way with an order of the skillet country ham, two eggs, grits and biscuits with red-eye gravy. First, the biscuits were exemplary - fluffy but not too floury or oversized. As for the country ham, the bone-in half center slice possessed a darker hue than most. Salty and full of flavor, this was among the best renditions of country ham I've had anywhere. For an extra level of intensity, the red-eye gravy will certainly put hair on your chest. It's a must-try, but should be used in moderation. A cup of strong coffee made the ideal accompaniment to the monstrous meal -- without which, slipping into a food coma might have proved unavoidable. Alas, there was no room for lemon icebox or coconut pie, but I'll gladly fight inexplicable Atlanta traffic any day to return to the Silver Skillet.