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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Sautee Trail (another review that's useless unless you live in Georgia)

One of my favorite places to grab a bite while staying at Mum's is a local joint called The Sautee Trail Cafe.

Building the place was a risk for the owner - her location, while on a road frequented by tourists, isn't exactly high traffic; it's more of a back-roads tourist area than a main highway. Also, owning or operating a restaurant in the area is chancy - you absolutely must to have local support, because the tourist money won't be enough to operate all year, or even part of the year, and quite a few folks have closed their doors after only a month or so because the locals weren't interested. Kiss of death, that.

It's tiny - ten tables, nine of which seat four and the tenth seating six. When full, it's like navigating a maze to get from the door to a table or to the restroom - the waitress practically has to limbo or do the Watusi to get anywhere.

The Sautee Trail has your basic diner-fare - burgers, sandwiches, meatloaf...nothing fancy, nothing pinkie up.

I adore the place.

For breakfast, they have omelets. Oh, my, do they have omelets. Fluffy, cheesy, big-as-your-head, I swear the eggs come from giant, aerated chickens! They come with grits and a biscuit, but being the pain in the arse that I am, I ask for home fries and bacon instead; yeah, I still have half an artery that isn't clogged, and I'm working on it as fast as I can.

How they manage to make an omelet fluffy but crispy, I will never know. Or maybe I don't want to know. The potatoes are a product of nothing less than kitchen sorcery, I am convinced. I can make home fries, but not like that - I think one needs a deep fryer with well seasoned oil in it to make potatoes like that. I do wish they had onions in them, but I can understand why they don't - onions are hell on fryer oil.

The pancakes are insane - big as the plate and stacked three high, they could be sewn together for a blanket. I don't think I've ever seen a single person finish an order. Whole families can't finish an order!

Mum usually gets the pancakes and eggs, but the last time we breakfasted there, we smartened up - I ordered the cheese omelet (made with that delightfully melty, mellow, and almost entirely non-food based American cheese) as usual and she simply ordered pancakes and bacon. We shared, and there were still enough leftovers to feed a third person. So. Full.

I've had lunch there a few times, too. The first time I order at a new (to me) place, I am likely to order one of three things; a grilled cheese sandwich, a BLT, or a cheeseburger, rare. These are the trinity of diner lunch fare, and if you can't get them right, you fail. Fries are another test - there's little sadder in the food world than a limp french fry, or a dry one.

Sautee Trail passes all three of the sandwich tests with flying colors. Once the weather turns cold, they have a lunch special that you can't beat - a bowl of soup large enough to float a boat in with a grilled cheese (again with the plastic American cheese) sandwich. I defy anyone to eat the whole thing. Mum and I could have split one order - we ended up taking home about a bowl's worth of soup.

I've had their BLT before, and love it. The bacon is nice and crisp - none of that pre-cooked, plastic stuff, no sir, it's fried up on their grill. I think they have tomato fairies, because I've never had a bad one...you know, unripe or all mushy and mealy. The fries are decent, too...not the very best fries I ever had (that honor belongs to a bowling alley, of all places), but the Evil Genius likes 'em fine, and so do I.

The burgers won praise from my friend S, who was up there with me on a quick jaunt when we decided lunch was in order. She's picky about her beef, so when she threatens to stab you in the hand with her fork if you touch her burger, well - you know it's good stuff. Also, they'll cook it rare - do you know how...well...rare...that is?? Everyone's so afraid of mad cow or whatever that they won't cook less than medium. If I have to eat medium or well done beef, I may as well chew on shoe-leather, so any place that'll do rare is a prize.

They have the standard soft drinks, coffee, and whatnot, but I like their iced tea (I usually order half sweet, half unsweet). They will refill your cup as often as you let them and try to send you out the door with a full one for the road.

I'd like to tell you about their deserts, but...I've never had one. I'm always full before I finish my meal. Dang. I need to do something about that.

So - good food, more than generous servings with very reasonable pricing, family friendly, and well supported by the locals - I have hopes that the Trail, open for several years now, will endure.

The Sautee Trail
(706) 754-8040
Off Georgia Hwy 17


Cheryl Lage said...

Please tell me you are going to let the trailblazers of The Sautee Trail know of this literate tribute...'tis the stuff that facilitates visits from The Food Network. (Or maybe it's better left somewhat of an insider's secret...)

While I don't get to Georgia often, one of my dearest palate-possessed pals lives in Alpharetta...is it anywhere near there?

Enjoy the time with mum...and have an omelet for me...

Susan said...

Any tips on how to remove drool from a keyboard? Pancakes you could make a blanket out of? You should write for Bon Appetit. OR anyone else for that matter. Frickin' YUM.

Kyddryn said...

Cheryl, it's located on Georgia HWY 17 between CLarkesville and Helen, well North of Alpharetta - but not so far it's an unreasonable drive on a clear Autumn day when a body wants to enjoy the hills. :-)

Susan, sorry...I recommend a plastic keyboard cover (you know, like grandma's couch cover?) and a chamois. Thanks for the compliment...but when they make food that good, it's easy to write about!