In a lot of ways, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand is an all out surprise. You’ll find Delia’s on a somewhat downtrodden strip of Moreland Ave just south of I20 and roughly a half mile from East Atlanta Village. Not exactly the epicenter of Atlanta’s food scene, you’ll know it by the sharp orange and green accented sign serving as an immediate call to arms amongst the nearby row of fast food chains and gas stations. It’s almost too pretty for the neighborhood.
Yes, when one considers an East Atlanta food stand powered by chicken sausage, it would follow that said establishment was probably just a dive. The Sausage Stand is anything but. With alpha-branding, a color scheme that screams “ad agency,” and a cutesy-adult menu that reads like something out of Go The **** To Sleep, it’s apparent that owners Molly Gunn and Delia Champion have their sites set on a larger game. That assumption aside, several internet sites have quotes from the duo attesting to such intentions. After one such encounter with Delia’s … it seems that it might be best if they put the horse before the cart.
In terms of the big picture, Delia’s is off to a strong start. Despite its small stature, the place is easy to pick out on the crowded thoroughfare. The inside, which is dominated by the ordering arena, merchandise display, and mini-fridges, has a handful of counter top seats. It’s identifiable and differentiated against the nearby backdrop. Outside, you’ll find a few two-tops and picnic tables, something else you probably won’t see nearby. Though I didn’t see any sign of a drive-thru window, there is a strong emphasis on to-go orders. In fact – my “for here” order was packaged in a very to-go friendly fashion.
More importantly than the design, the menu is backed by the type of teaser information that food enthusiasts really get behind. The chicken is deboned by hand using clucky from the seemingly ubiquitous Springer Mountain Farms. Relying on Delia’s recipe that’s been “perfected of 15-years,” it is then packed and encased in very small batches and ultimately delivered to the customer via hoagie rolls and slider buns produced by the also ubiquitous H&F Bakery. They also have a special cheese sauce that incorporates Wild Heaven Craft Beer, a local microbrew. But the cracks start to show with the way the menu reads and my experience subsequently comes to a screeching halt. From there, the shortcomings rushed out like water from a broken damn.
The main focus of the menu is on The Slinger. Each slinger is a hoagie + link sausage + toppings and it reads just shy of risqué with items like The Three Way ($6) and The Sleazy Cheesy ($5). With about ten options, a number of the selections run over one and other leaving me stumped as to the separate line items. I’m further befuddled by the slightly lurid menu – not that it bothers me in the slightest – but it just doesn’t fit with the slick styling’s of the joint. Oh, you can top your slinger with any number of free and not-so-free extras (including vegan chili for all you dedicated humanitarians who want to be fowl-conscious while you slurp down a gigantic piece of chicken sausage).
The list of slingers is supplemented by sides, four b’fast anytime options, and four sliders. The most notable of the latter being their Double D Delight. For $5 you get chicken-sausage patties slathered with cherry cream cheese and a Krispy Kreme bun.
I found the ordering process to be somewhat cumbersome, as is the case anytime someone get’s “creative” with their naming conventions but not so creative with their toping combinations. Despite assistance from a very helpful, albeit misinformed, staff, I ended up with the what might be called “chicken-sausage two ways.” I grabbed one Hot Mess Slinger ($6) and some Sloppy Sliders ($6 for 3). Aside from the chili on the Hot Mess, the toppings were identical. Each came with Wild Heaven cheese sauce, jalapeños, and “comeback” sauce.
I didn’t really pay attention to how long the wait was. I wasn’t in a hurry and the place wasn’t crowded, so just take note that it was neither lightening fast nor unbearably slow. After some non-descript wait, I was politely handed my food upon which receiving I planted myself outside to indulge.
Holy guacamole this Slinger was a) messy b) huge c) a futile exercise in proper dining etiquette. The delivery is eerily reminiscent of something you might receive at Turner Field. Forced to siphon off parts with butcher like precision, everything went everywhere as I knifed away. The chicken-sausage was completely lost in the fray. Frankly, if not for the textural differences between the chicken-sausage and the wiener, I would have thought I was at The Ted enjoy a Blue Jay bashing. Everything was so mushy that the cheese and chili succumbed to the not-so-spicy tang of the jalapeños. After carefully washing my link, I can also say that it lacked the joy such ingredients yearn to provide. Though the casing popped, it did not snap and the meat was dry while the herb mix was unremarkable.
After a mere two or three bites, I turned my attention to the sliders. Though much more manageable than my slinger, these were still messy. Again, that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. In this case, it’s an incomplete thought. If you want a to-go option – make sure it travels well and eats neat.
These suffered a similar, if still less frustrating, fate than my slinger. Melty cheese and beer is one hell of a great way to make a cheese dip. As a slider topping, it should provide a demonstrative flavor. It got lost. Against the buttery bread (which was quite delightful), and after running through a few bites of slinger, nothing stood out. On that account, I can’t really say the sliders got a fare shake, but I can say the patties did little to work for my enjoyment.
A few bites in, my taste buds were lost and tired. I called it quits and reluctantly re-boxed my dinner and set off for home. Sure, my food made its way into my fridge, but it was tossed less than 24-hours later after congealing into some new element we have yet to identify.
Let’s assume for a second that chicken-sausage links are as versatile as hot dogs (they aren’t) and that chicken-sausage patties will work with toppings like a traditional slider does (they don’t). Even then, Delia’s still has a problem.
While the branding seems promising and the idea unique, the conceptualization falls apart the further in-depth you go. Most importantly, everything in the food department fell flat. Maybe it was an anomaly, but for an establishment looking for mass appeal, consistency is imperative and they’re not doing anything that others (see successful fast casual and fast food concepts), haven’t done before.
Much like The Porter, Gunn’s primordial restaurant, and Champion’s The Flying Biscuit chain [of which she sold out from under], Delia’s Chicken Sausage stand is the type of place that Atlantans really like to get behind. As it stands, that seems the best of a bad situation. I dunno – maybe their breakfast will save them.