Carver’s Country Kitchen & Grocery Restaurant Review – Westside In Midtown, Atlanta, GA

Overall: ★★☆☆

carver's country kitchenAhhhhhhhhh … everyone’s favorite gut buster … none other than Carver’s Grocery on the Westside of Midtown.  Okay, in all technicality – what you have is a restaurant (aka Carver’s Country Kitchen) inside a grocery (aka Carver’s Grocery).  The reality is that in all my years of visiting the Carver’s and their restaurant, I’ve never once see anyone purchase anything remotely approaching a “grocery.”  So for the sake of brevity, let’s just call them one in the same.

Carver’s, named after owners Robert and Sharon Carver, is yet another in a long list of Atlanta institutions that serves soul food, aka southern cuisine, aka meat’n three (though they are actually a meat-and-two).  Truth is, the vast majority of long standing Atlanta restaurants serves the aforementioned.  But that’s neither here nor there, and the culinary classification that you ascribe to this joint is nothing more than a matter of semantics.  At the end of the day, you’re going to walk out with your waist line expanded and your health calorically challenged by indigenous food from south of the Mason-Dixon.

carver's country kitchen - meat'n two carver's country kitchen - the kitsch

There are several requisite behaviors one must prepare for when taking a trip to Carver’s.  First: wear loose-fitting clothes; second: leave your plastic at home (cash only); and third, put on a happy face … chances are, you’ll be dining next to someone you don’t know (communal seating).

Meanwhile, more often than not, you’ll find that there is no ideal time to head over to the Westside.  Open weekdays from 11 o’clock in the AM until 3 o’clock PM, the restaurant stays pretty busy.  Show up early, you’re bound to get stuck in traffic (so to speak).  On the contrary, show up late, and the food will match the crowd: thinned out.  Sharon makes everything fresh, so when it’s gone … it’s gone.  Something has got to give, so you might as well just suck it up, pick a time, and head on over.

carver's country kitchen - cheesy potato ham casseroleSpeaking of the menu, Carver’s relies on a stable of items.  Each day, Sharon will make around ten entrées, a dozen or so sides, and a handful of deserts.  Meanwhile, the five choices from the grain family are there everyday [those choices being: biscuits, corn bread, jalapeño corn bread, cheesy bread, & hush puppies].

Let’s be honest, the ‘hood Carver’s calls home can best be described as sketchy.  There’s a reasonable chance that someone could drive by Carver’s every day and just never notice it.  The run down exterior translates into a homely interior.  I never get the feeling that the place is dirty; rather, it makes no effort to be elegant or refined. Though the cafeteria tables and chairs are simple, the décor is anything but.  Odds-and-ends adorn the walls in full force.  Funny signs show up, as well as some pictures and apparel.

To the left, you’re likely to find Robert manning the register.  However, every so often, Sharon will relieve him.  The couple seem to go together like peas and carrots.  Drifting toward portly, armed with smiles and incredibly affable personalities, the they are as approachable as anyone.

By now, you’re eyes will drift east.  After scanning the five tables your neck will perch as you try to see past the couple of folks that are at the cafeteria style counter in the back.  You continue your scan only to notice that those few people are simply the front of the Disney World ride line.  So you wait and take it in.  As you get closer, you’ll be able to sneak-a-peek at the menu for the day.

Standard plates ring up under $10 and come with one entrée, two sides, and a piece of bread.  If you want an extra side or some dessert, it will run you $2.50 per.  The wait is over, you’re able to calmly place your order (no Soup Nazi here), and moments later you receive your tray of gluttony. Finding a seat can be somewhat of a chore if your party exceeds two people.  Still, you’ll get in – somehow and someway.

carver's country kitchen - fried chickenOver the years, I’ve pretty much honed in on the fried chicken and the meatloaf for my meal.  I’ll mix up the sides; however, I always take an order of the cheesy potato ham casserole when it’s available.  As the ambiance would suggest, this food is pretty straightforward and simple.  I’ve never been blown away with anything here; however, the flavors are fairly consistent.  From one meal to the next, I usually can’t tell the difference.   That said, the execution of the food can drift from time to time.

The barbecue is nothing to write home about and I’ve stumbled upon a dry order of turkey every once in a blue moon.  Meanwhile, the fired chicken, my ‘ole reliable, is tasty but not perfect.  Fried chicken is one of the few things that I think almost always tastes better at home.  At Carver’s, the batter isn’t heavy, but it’s not light either.  There is something a bit sweet about a bite of their chicken.  Though that may just be my palate playing tricks on me.  A juicy piece of fried fowl can easily hint at sweetness.  Unfortunately, the batter does not adhere to the chicken as much as I would like … this leaves you looking like this kid after a good working of the skin:

http://i2.wp.com/www.onenewsnow.com/uploadedImages/Media/Images/hungry%20baby.jpg?w=660

I prefer the leg and thigh chicken, but people tend to order the “Dolly Parton” breast more frequently.  Like the turkey, I’ve had a dry bite of the breast before.  Meanwhile, the dark meat has always been moist (not surprising as the dark meat is easier to cook properly).  In fact, it can be moist to a fault.  During my most recent excursion, the meat simply fell off the bone.  With the batter not far behind, I had to reconstruct my chicken to eat it.

The sides are always fresh and tasty.  Nothing exquisite and nothing bad, I have enjoyed most every one of them (sans anything with broccoli).  Still, they do a better job with their carbs than they do with their leaves.  The mac-n-cheese is popular here.  As BG points out, they use Velveeta cheese to satiate my savory desires.  The deserts come and go, and all seem to do the job.  That said, I’ve never had a bite of one – so take that comment with a grain of salt.

I’d say the only thing about Carver’s that I don’t always care for is the service.  That may sound odd given what I’ve already said about everyone’s extremely friendly (and competent) nature.  However, more often than not, the friendly runners will continue to offer to refill your beverage no matter how many times you tell them you are fine.  Maybe that brings out the curmudgeon in me; but overbearing service can be just as bad as absentee service.

carver's country kitchen - the late menu

In this small community of foodies, I’m actually surprised there isn’t more written about this place.  The food gets bonus points for consistency in the taste.  That everything is made fresh daily is also a big plus.  People love Carver’s, but true to my reputation, I’m a bit more reserved.  I find the food and the experience to be very good, but I never find myself tossing and turning at night wondering when I can get my next fix.  Instead, I happily go to Carver’s for a little of variety and some solid southern fare.  However, if you haven’t been, you should put this high up on your to-do list.

Before I jet, be warned that parking is somewhat problematic, but I’m sure you’ll manage.  There are rumors of valet parking in the future

FOR THE FULL ALBUM, VISIT
Flickr Logo

Ratings (Explained Here)

Food: ★★☆☆
Service: ★½☆☆
Vibe: ★★☆☆
Overall: ★★☆☆

Atlanta Foodies On Carver’s Country Kitchen & Grocery

Carver’s Country Cooking Restaurant Address & Information

118 W. Marietta St. Atlanta, GA 30318 // 404.794.4410 // Carver’s Website
Carver's Country Kitchen & Grocery on Urbanspoon

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • wesleywhatwhat

    your chief complaint is that the service is TOO friendly?

    ludicrous.

    makes me wonder about the rest of the review.

    perhaps it’s time to stay home for a bit, hmmm?

    • http://www.foodiebuddha.com foodiebuddha

      Actually Wesley, my complaint had nothing to do with the friendliness of the people there. My comment was that at times, the people who are responsible for clearing tables and keeping the glasses full can be a little obtrusive. Two entirely separate issues.

      In that manner, it’s a rather minor aspect to the experience (and the review).

  • Drew

    I’m a huge fan of Carver’s and have been eating there at least once a week for months. I’ll agree that the mains can be hit or miss, but the Dolly Parton breast, the fried catfish, and the country fried steak are all winners. The ham and cheese casserole is very good but the green beans are the best I’ve ever had and are the one item I get every single time I go. They usually have either butter peas or lima beans too which are usually excellent. And don’t forget about their strawberry and coca-cola cakes which are sugary Southern bliss. It ain’t the Ritz but it is my favorite meat and three (two) joint in town.

    • http://www.foodiebuddha.com foodiebuddha

      Hi Drew,
      I agree that the fried goods are all pretty tasty. I’ve dabbled with the green beans before and I understand why people love them so much. For me, I just find them a little too watery. That said, I haven’t had them in some time now. I’ll check them out next time I’m there.

      I think their greens seem to lack a little personality. They’re all cooked fine and such; but they just don’t give me that OMG experience.

      I’ve heard great things about the desserts so your last comments don’t surprise me in the least! :-)

      Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts as much as possible!

      Cheers ma’ate!

  • Katie

    Ahhh, Carver’s! I haven’t been there in years but it is an old favorite as it used to be a Friday tradition when I was in college. I really shouldn’t speak to the quality of the food there since I haven’t been lately but I remember always enjoying my meals there. I think I especially loved the banana pudding.

    But you do make a good point to go on the early side as food tends to run out quickly!

    • http://www.foodiebuddha.com foodiebuddha

      I feel like the choice to eat there is a bit like the choice to shoot yourself with a sawed off or to stab yourself with a katana. Neither seems appealing! ;-) Come to early, and you’re fighting the crowd … go too late and you’ll miss the best stuff. It’s a nice problem for Carver’s to have.

      Certainly worth going back for, just to say hi to R&S – such great people!

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Elizabeth

    This place is great. Their Coca-Cola cake is a must. You’re right about wearing loose-fitting clothes. Prepare to want a nap after eating here.

%d bloggers like this: