Small Batch Southern Cooking at Gracious Plenty
By Joe Duffy
As one of the biggest food snobs on Planet Earth, I’m interrogated continually for restaurant guidance. When the desired genre is daily breakfast (the list gets lengthier for weekend brunch), there is a clearly defined top two: the previously examined Hen Mother Cookhouse in Johns Creek and Gracious Plenty Bakery & Breakfast in Roswell. Just as HMC is run by a husband and wife chef team, Gracious Plenty is directed by betrothed Jasmin Willis and Conner Slewitzke.
Not surprisingly, the lovebirds met on the job, when they toiled the trade together at King + Duke from well-known Atlanta chef Ford Fry. Jasmin was part of the pastry team and Conner a line cook. Willis is the owner of Gracious Plenty and Executive Pastry Chef, while Slewitzke captains the savory side.
The two items I advocate most categorically are any of the hash brown bowls and anything with a biscuit. The bowls commence with freshly cut hash browns. In normal times, the selection of vegetables, protein, and cheese is substantially more diverse, but in the “new normal” two eggs, American cheese, plus an electable of bacon or chicken sausage comprise this signature dish. Optional add-ons are onions and blistered tomatoes. Grits in lieu of hash browns is another alternative.
Though I come clean in acknowledging some appreciation of the Waffle House, my canned attempts to speak WaHo lingo when ordering do an injustice. These bowls are next level excellency. In yearning for the world as we once knew returning, I look forward to utilizing the restoration of the whole shebang of mix and match combinations, highlighted by Heywood Provisions-infused proteins.
The biscuits should be in every debate of “best of Atlanta.” A biscuit sandwich has the same meat selections as the bowls. When the universe allows a flowing dining room again, perhaps we shall see the option of a fried bologna biscuit, the lunch meat from aforesaid blue-ribbon supplier Heywood. In addition to the crushing constraints the industry is seeing due to the economic slowdown, like virtually all “chef-driven” restaurants, Gracious Plenty’s menu is seasonal. Their fantastic biscuits and gravy has proven to be more popular in cold weather, so it is not a permanent fixture, but take advantage of this item when available.
There is no paucity of first-rate burger options in the area, but GP’s “cheeseburga” with American cheese, onion, pickles, and comeback sauce holds its own against the best.
When interviewed by charming Mara Davis, Netflix’s Phil Rosenthal called Gracious Plenty the best meal he’s had in Georgia. Though most commonly known for being the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, most germane is that Rosenthal is the host of I’ll Have What Phil’s Having on PBS and Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. It’s also a favorite of local resident Perry Burris, who gives GP “a 10 out of 10.”
Willis credits mentor Chrysta Poulus, the Executive Pastry Chef for the Ford Fry empire. In addition to King + Duke, Slewitzke’s resume includes working under Pat Pascarella at the Optimist, then at Staplehouse, before heading to Canton Street.
Do not even consider leaving without trying the French almond cake. In an area flourishing with diverse sweets purveyors, that almond cake is as good as any dessert item. The monkey bread is another top seller. Just want a traditional bacon and eggs? Get Bruce’s plate, which also has chicken sausage and the must-have biscuit. I still must try their chicken salad.
The two owners are good people too, having contributed greatly to Roswell’s “School Meal Program,” designed to help feed school children once in-school was cancelled because of Covid. The program’s founder Mike Thomas said, “When we came up with the idea for the School Meal Program, Jasmine and Conner were one of the first I called. Throughout the program they were always there to help make sure our students were going to have quality fresh meals whenever we needed them,” adding, “During what was a very uncertain time for restaurants, they always put our kiddos first. Speaks greatly of their character.”
Modified menu notwithstanding, GP makes me plenty gracious.
1164 Canton St, Roswell, GA 30075
This economic lockdown has cut down on my restaurant patronage by 93.45 percent. Though I’d agree with the food snob consensus that Sandy Spring’s Tasty China and Duluth’s (but stay tuned) Masterpiece sets the standard for real Sichuan cuisine, I fully approve of the grub I got at Great Sichuan on Medlock Bridge.
I did keep my vow to not robotically order heat, heat, and more heat each time I walk through the doors at a Sichuan restaurant. You could argue that I put Johns Creek’s Great Sichuan at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to the inevitable comparison to standard bearers Masterpiece and Tasty China. Still, the boiled pork, lamb casserole, and dumplings with chili oil more than held their own.
Johns Creek has themselves one hell of an “Asian Alley” with Great Sichuan and Hong Kong Café each for Sichuan, Le Mekong Vietnamese Cuisine, and Mama’s Kitchen Taiwanese Food. Next on the hit list is confirming Xiao’s Way Noodle House has soup dumplings as great as the reports. If so, that would make it five bell cow Asian restaurants in maybe a two-mile stretch in the affluent bedroom community. Look for the aforesaid Masterpiece to relocate resulting in said radius foodie heaven…
Cibo and Vino on Jones Bridge Road puts out a very good Italian sandwich. These are imported meats and very high quality; I believe they told me during soft opening, they procure the meat from Arthur Avenue. I’m fat and wouldn’t mind more meat but will admit that’s a common complaint. Still, the Italian would make my list of favorite sandwiches in Hubville.
When he’s not eating, which is rare, the author is CEO of Sports Handicapping website OffshoreInsiders.com. His bride’s gift site, DuffyGifts.com is the place to go for gifts of all occasions from My Thirty One Gifts.