My brother was in town for a conference with some of his colleagues. One of them, who worked in the Atlanta area, proposed hitting up Gladys Knight and Ron Winan Chicken & Waffles, mentioning that it is an Atlanta staple.
So we drove down and patiently joined the line outside. Note the picture below was taken post-dining and does not show the line. Imagine a good 12-15 people milling around (and then another 10-15 people waiting around inside).
Now, I think lines outside of a restaurant can do funny things to customers' mindsets. I mean, for one it makes people truly hungry before they get their food. But in certain cases, when the food is good enough to still uphold the yummyness/waiting tradeoff, it can strangely make a place seem almost endearing (John's Roast Pork in Philly). In others cases, that mental calculation just doesn't hold up(Burma SuperStar in San Fran).
In this case, it fell in between, leaning more towards the endearing category than not. I think it helped enormously that the company of people we were with could shoot the breeze and make fun of the horribly, almost surrealistically inefficient seating process.
Seriously, there were two tables that were sitting free and available the entire time we were waiting. Why this was, nobody really explained, but I suspect this was an example of the Southern mentality: what's the rush?
Anyways, after our party had bugged the hostess one too many times about our expected seating time, she finally frostily sent us to the table, where I ordered:
Smothered Chicken - (A tender, boneless fried chicken breast smothered in our homemade gravy and served over a bed of white rice) - The chicken well was smothered in a rich gravy. The chicken was tender and sat on top of rice-a-roni like rice. My side of collard greens had all of the tartness of collard greens wiped out. The candied yams were sweet, sweet, sweet. While I wouldn't go so far as really liking this, I must say that this was rather personally intriguing. I finally understood what all of those awful cafeteria American cuisine creations that I've had over the years was inspired by. And I really don't mean to demean this meal - certainly the gravy in most cafeterias across the country do a great disrespect to the gravy here and in other like places. But it was interesting better understanding "American" cuisine a little bit more.
Sweet tea - Sweetness like that of soda. It was only near the very bottom of the drink did I actually taste the minutest of tea flavors.
Midnight Train - I also tried out some of my brother's chicken & waffles, called the Midnight Train on the menu. The fried chicken was served piping hot and had been fried in some sort of fat or lard, since there was no way oil could taste like that. Pretty decent in a guilty pleasure kind of way. The waffle was pretty sweet without the syrup, yet the sweetness was strangely uninsulting, despite the relatively high sweetness levels. I got the feeling that this is how you gain weight in the South; somehow they've mastered the art of making things sweet without the corresponding ick factor, such that you almost do not get that feedback that you're eating something rather unhealthy.
Anyways, I certainly had a fun and interesting experience here. I am not quite sure I would return, but certainly it was good to try it once.
Gladys Knight And Ron Winan Chicken & Waffles
529 Peachtree Street Northeast Atlanta, GA 30308-2228 (Map)