One suggestion for the Better Breakfast series that I received more than once was The Silver Skillet in Midtown. Even though I have lived in Atlanta for over 25 years, I had never been, so it wasn’t until doing some homework that I discovered the rich history behind it. The Silver Skillet has been a staple diner on the Atlanta food scene for over 40 years. It was even featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” for their classic breakfast fare. In that time, it has built a very loyal following, but being a newbie myself, I was able to experience it without the clouded judgment that nostalgia often brings with it.
The Silver Skillet is truly the embodiment of an old-south diner, and it seems there have been almost no updates to the establishment in their 40+ years of existence. In many ways, it feels like you are stepping into the past when you enter. The booths and tables look every bit their age, in both style and condition, and the walls are plastered with faded pictures, articles, and kitschy artifacts and signs. Case in point – they literally have the grenade with the “complaint department” sign in front of it by the register. If you are the type of person that is going to be turned off by a little cheesy décor and out-of-date furnishings, then you need to understand what you are walking into before you go.
A primary motivator for me to embark on the Better Breakfast series was to find those eateries that turn out a breakfast unlike any other. While I enjoyed my meal here, I found that The Silver Skillet did not exactly match up with the type of breakfast I hoped to find. I wanted something truly unique; The Silver Skillet is about as classic “southern diner” as you will find anywhere. In the interest of objectivity, I will try to put aside this initial disappointment and just focus on the quality of my meal. It isn’t really their fault that their menu isn’t aligned with my personal goals for the series.
The breakfast food served at The Silver Skillet is old-school, grease riddled, southern breakfast fare: Buttermilk biscuits, country ham, red-eye gravy, and a bevy of artery-clogging goodness to go with it. This is the type of breakfast I grew up eating at my Grandparents’ house in Alabama.
I decided on the Southern Breakfast, one of the “Skillet Favorites”, which consists of two center-cut battered and fried (or grilled) pork chops, two eggs, grits and white gravy, and your choice of toast or biscuits. I opted for the fried pork chops and biscuits. What the hell is the point of eating a meal like that if you are going to go the healthy route?
First, I will take a look at the biscuits, because few things piss me off in this world more than a poor excuse for a biscuit (Yeah, I’m looking at YOU Flying Biscuit!). These are light, fluffy, and soaked in butter. So yeah, I liked them. Biscuits are one of those items that aren’t that remarkable when done correctly, but can easily be royally screwed up. These were just like Grandma used to make.
Next up was the actual Southern Breakfast platter, with my eggs (over-easy), grits, gravy, and pork chops.
The eggs were satisfying, but there isn’t much more to say about two over-easy eggs. They were cooked properly and there was nothing wrong with them….they were just eggs. It is essentially the same story on the grits as well, except that I had to overload them with butter and salt to get any flavor into them, but that is somewhat expected of grits. Even the best southern-style grits can be kind of bland.
The only really interesting parts of this meal were the pork chops and gravy. The pork chops were battered and deep fried. They were good, but could have been great. The batter added almost zero flavor to the pork chops. Instead, the crunchy exterior just tasted like oil, and was horribly under seasoned. The pork itself was good; juicy and tender. But I was hoping for more from these than I got. I still ate as much of this meal as I could handle (not out of distaste, mind you….deep fried pork chops and biscuits are pretty damn filling) but I wasn’t all that impressed. I’m of the belief that, especially in a restaurant like this one, that the customer should have the freedom to add salt and pepper to suit their taste, but these tasted like the seasoning was left out of the cooking process entirely. The gravy was ok…again, it was pretty under-seasoned and a little too flour heavy for my liking. Topping the pork with the gravy didn’t really enhance the meat at all. In fact, other than the doughy texture it added, the gravy was barely noticeable. There was a serious under seasoning problem with almost everything I ordered.
Another thing that I feel compelled to mention is the pricing. I’m not usually the guy that bitches about food being too expensive, especially if I walk away from the meal happy. But, for what they serve, it is pretty obvious that their namesake allows them to get away with overcharging for relatively simple and inexpensive breakfast food. My meal cost me roughly $9.00. I drove past a southern breakfast place en route to the Silver Skillet that was advertising a breakfast of 2 eggs, biscuit, bacon/sausage, and grits for $3.75. While that is ridiculously cheap, I think a reasonable price for this meal would have been closer to the $6-$7 range. $2-$3 may seem like I am being picky, and the price point wouldn’t keep me from coming back, but it might irk some folks more than it did me.
In conclusion, I had a decent meal here, but I think that Silver Skillet’s age has caught up with them. 50 years ago, you couldn’t really ask for a more than some old fashioned country-fried pork and eggs. But, these days, as Atlanta has really come into its culinary own, there are just too many other better breakfasts in Atlanta to be had.
If you are in the mood for a good old fasioned greasy southern breakfast, then I would absolutely recommend trying out The Silver Skillet. Unless I was really in the mood for that though, I don’t know that I would ever go out of my way to eat breakfast here again. I wouldn’t fight going there if I was with a group that wanted to go, but I’d just as soon pop over to The West Egg (despite the absurd wait time) or stick my head into Sublime Donuts to get a breakfast that would actually be memorable.
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