When I started the college application process a few years ago, I joked with friends and family members that I had to attend school in a city with a good reputation for fried chicken. What they didn’t necessarily realize is that I was serious. Eagerly accepting Emory’s admission offer, I began to daydream of local chicken shops. Although it has been satisfying hungry Atlantans since 1927, The Colonnade Restaurant managed to slip past my gaze as I skimmed through Yelp results — I wish I had found this gem sooner.
Each serving of their flagship fried chicken dish comes with four pieces: mixed, all white or all dark. The preparation is simple: Batter the chicken in a savory, peppery crust and fry until golden brown, leaving a moist interior. No bones about it, what makes the dish so tantalizing is the contrast between the crunchy skin and the tender layers beneath. When the plate landed in front of me, I wanted to dig in immediately, even though it was piping hot. Although I recommend the fried chicken entrée above all else, the salmon croquettes and shrimp plate are also excellent choices. Both are elegant preparations of seafood in a Southern tradition.
A mere 10-minute drive from campus, The Colonnade is an excellent venue to bring out-of-town guests when they request Southern delicacies. When passing under the colonnade that gives the restaurant its name, you’ll notice the old menus adorning the foyer. While a fried chicken plate and two sides cost a bit more than 35 cents now, I assure you the price you’ll pay is a worthy investment.
While the term “side dish” implies that it is somehow inferior in merit to an entrée, those at The Colonnade best dispel such a notion. With a list of side items taking up the better half of a menu page, common side effects of having to choose only two include indecision and an increased appetite.
After I sampled many choices, I reserved the highest praise for the macaroni and cheese, whipped potatoes and tomato aspic. Served by the scoopful, the well-cooked macaroni and cheese had a pleasant noodle-to-cheese ratio. Each airy forkful of the potatoes provided a stark contrast from the heaviness that came with each bite of chicken. If you’re feeling brave, try the tomato aspic. Essentially a combination of Jell-O and a Bloody Mary, the authentic dish is a true palate cleanser.
As if eating a full fried chicken dinner was not sinful enough, The Colonnade offers an expansive dessert menu as well. There is no wrong answer; however, I personally enjoy the hot fudge cake and the key lime pie. Each provides a unique and refreshing way to end the meal that does not leave you feeling overfilled. In addition, an early bird prix fixe menu is available for $13 from Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. It includes a beverage and dessert with your meal. As I like to say, “The early bird gets the drumstick!”