Friday, December 30, 2005


The Village Deli

The Village Deli is on the opposite side of Covington Square from A Touch of Country,in more ways than one. In contrast to the Dukes Boys themed diner, The Village Deli aims to look like it was transplanted out of New York City. One wall inside is covered with a mural of a park in a rather generic-looking big city.

Since Arby's no longer carries French Dip sandwiches, this is about the only place in town where you can get a good French Dip sub. While the price is a lot higher than Arby's - around $8 or $9 for a sandwich with a side item - the sandwiches are pretty high quality, with Boar's Head meats and high quality bread. The French Dip sandwich I had today came served on a crusty French roll covered with toasted sesame seeds. They also have an excellent assortment of pastries and cakes for desert - something you aren't going to find at any chain sub shop.

All their sandwiches include a trip to the pickle bar. This one is about twice the size of the similar thing at Quizno's, and has some truly unusual offerings. The most unusual is probably the picked green tomatoes. I haven't seen that anywhere else.

If there is a weakness, it's that the side items could use a little work. While you can get fries with your sandwich, this costs extra - the usual sides are chips, potato salad, macaroni salad, or coleslaw. I opted for the potato salad and found it to be incredibly bland. At one point I even tried pouring the au jus from the sandwich into the potato salad to see if I could make it more interesting. That did help, somewhat.

All in all, it's a good choice if you want a sandwich that's a cut above what you would find at a chain, and are willing to pay extra for it.

1124 Monticello St. SW
Covington, GA 30014

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


A Touch of Country

Ask people throughout the South to picture a town square, and they'll probably imagine one like the one at the center of Covington. The Square has just about everything you would expect - buildings that have stood for years, a tree lined central square with a monument, a hardware store that also sells homemade fudge, and a historic courthouse over a century old. In fact, many TV producers have come to Covington and filmed our square when they need a small-town Southern setting. The first show was The Dukes of Hazard, of course, but they also filmed the TV version of In the Heat of the Night and recently an episode of Three Wishes here.

The Dukes Boys are local heros here. There is an annual celebration that draws many of the surviving cars from the show, along with countless replicas. Many of the cast members live in the area, or did. And it's only fitting that the Square should have a small museum dedicated to The Dukes of Hazard and In the Heat of the Night.

A Touch of Country is that museum, a furniture store, and a restaurant, all in one. Don't let the name fool you; the food here is actually more like a classic diner than country cooking. The menu includes burgers, corn dogs, BBQ sandwiches, and homemade chili. They also have a Frito Pie - that's a combination of chili, Fritos, cheese, and sour cream. Of course, no diner menu would be complete without shakes and floats. They even have a "Hazard County Float," a citrus concoction with orange sherbet and Sprite. The food is about average quality for diner food - not exactly fine dining, but perfectly good for a casual lunch when you're not feeling like chain fast food. And this is the perfect place to stop in for a cold shake or float during a car show on the Square on a hot summer day.

This is certainly a friendly sort of diner, too. It wasn't long after I walked in today that some of the regular patrons started discussing whether one of the people out for a stroll in Covington Square was Cooter or merely a Ben Jones lookalike.

The museum is not all that big, but it's probably worth a look if you are a fan of either In the Heat of the Night or The Dukes of Hazard. They have several signed photos, props, a clickboard, and even a door from one of the General Lees, signed by several of the cast members. There is no admission charge, either.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


La Luna

Silence greeted Kelly and me when we walked into La Luna. There was only one family sitting at a table, and no staff in sight. In a minute, a waitress came out of the kitchen and apoligized; the staff had been planning their Christmas party. We only saw two more groups of people arrive during the whole time we were eating there.

I don't usually expect a restaurant to be almost deserted at dinnertime on a Friday evening in a fair-sized town. The empty feeling somehow clung to the restaurant like a fog. It somehow even extended to the walls, which were decorated with a classy mixture of paintings and antiques. Somehow, the decour felt like it was missing something, just like the restaurant seemed to be missing patrons. I felt vaugely unsettled by this. If I were Stephen King, I'd start to think of writing a story about a restaurant haunted by the ghost of a murdered chef just to capture that feeling.

The food did nothing to explain why the restaurant was so empty. We ordered an apetizer of fried mozzerella that we agreed was one of the best fried cheese foods we'd ever tried. I couldn't pass up a fifteen dollar New York Strip Steak, which came with diced potatoes and green beans. The steak was so big that I wondered how they could afford to sell them at that price. The preparation showed an outstanding talent with spices. The only demerits to my meal were a few tough spots in an otherwise tender and flavorful cut of meat.

The service also did not seem like a ready explanation for why there were so few patrons. After the slight delay in getting a table, they waited on us like we were the only ones there. While we almost were the only ones there, the staff was most attentive and polite.

There were a few cleanliness issues, but they did not seem to be enough to explain their business woes. The men's room had a small hole in the plaster, and one of the "legs" for the sink was missing. I suspect some of this defered maintenance was a symptom, not a cause, of the small number of customers. The only other thing I could think of was a small fleck of bone that turned up in one of Kelly's meatballs, but surely that would have to be just a small case of bad luck... wouldn't it?

I'm still a little puzzled as to why La Luna seemed so empty.

1820 GA Highway 20
Conyers, GA 30013

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