Ah, Southern food. How I do so very much love you – at least when you come out of my mother’s kitchen. But alas, most restaurants fall short of my mother’s brilliance and I’ve never found that go-to comfort food spot. Would Mary Mac’s come to the rescue?
The restaurant is an Atlanta staple and somewhere I urge all visitors to check out. Even the Dali Lama has dined at this most Southern of establishments! The decor is somewhat dated, but you can enjoy browsing through the wall-of-fame photos taken of all the famous people who have visited.
I’m going to dock the restaurant a couple of points on service solely because of the hostess who seated us. She was obviously in a pissy mood and wanted nothing to do with customers. She brought us into a dining room and just stood there while we had to guess which table we were supposed to sit at and then threw our menus at us. Wow. But then we were rescued by our server who was fantastic and super helpful. So things turned around quickly.
People will tell you to order the fried chicken and I’m not going to argue with those people, but I ordered the cubed steak with brown gravy. Cubed steak with gravy is my most favorite meal of all time EVER. My mom cooked this for me instead of baking a birthday cake. Served with lima beans and mashed potatoes, all mixed together, is my idea of heaven on earth. Mary Mac’s didn’t have lima beans, but did have butter peas which are just as yummy. And they didn’t have mashed potatoes – WHAT? So I substituted cheese grits and hoped for the best.
The sides were awesome. Loved the peas and grits – both were a bit under seasoned but a little salt cured this travesty. The cubed steak wasn’t so lucky. Try as I might, the salt just couldn’t save this particular serving of beef. The steak itself was tough and filled with grizzle. I wasn’t able to cut it with my fork which is a huge no-no. Plus, the gravy had a chalky flavor, so obviously the flour mixture wasn’t done properly. I believe the gravy was missing milk or cream. My mom makes this dish with milk gravy which works well. Perhaps Mary Mac’s should do the same.
So, I’m still on the lookout for my perfect Southern comfort food outside my mom’s kitchen. Jimmy did enjoy his chicken liver and onions – saying that the liver was a bit over salty but still managed to retain a lovely liver flavor. He was less impressed with his turnip greens and sweet potato souffle. He also liked the batter on his order of fried okra. We both agreed that the prices were fair so we’ll probably go back at some point, and this time I’ll order the fried chicken!
(Picture courtesy of restaurant’s website)
4 thoughts on “Atlanta Restaurant Review: Mary Mac’s Tea Room”
I don’t know if I would have given this one a second chance after the rude hostess and the not so great meals, but since it’s a staple, maybe you were just there on a bad night. I do really appreciate all these reviews of Atlanta restaurants though, as my mom lives there, and sometimes we like to get out and see the sights and eat when we get a chance!
I’m glad you’re enjoying them! I know they’re a bit off topic, but it’s fun to go out and really think about the food I’m eating – makes the money spent feel more worthwhile!
I feel like I’ve heard of this place… but I don’t know. Anyway, sorry it wasn’t what you were hoping! Love Southern food, so when it’s wrong you just know it. There’s not much room for saving it if it’s bad! 🙂
So very true – bad Southern food can be BAD. Hopefully, I’ll have a better experience next time or find a better place!