I was born and raised in the south, so I can appreciate a good spread of home-cooked grub. Everyone we talked to said that Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room was a must, so we heeded the advice and picked up some coffees before we headed that way. We knew to expect a long line; Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is only open for lunch and it’s always packed. They stop serving at 2pm and will turn people away from the line when they start getting near quittin’ time.
Part of the experience is waiting in the long line and meeting your neighbors and soon-to-be family style dining table mates. We were lucky and hit the line just before a tour bus let off their eager patrons. We stood in front of a couple who always stops by Mrs. Wilkes when they visit Savannah; the woman tried to convince me the food was terrible so we would leave the line and they could get ahead in the wait! [I didn’t fall for it].
Our total wait was probably around 45 minutes and totally worth it. By the time we got inside the dining room, we had become best friends with our line mates and felt comfortable enough to help each other heap giant spoonful piles of food on to our plates.
Let’s talk about the food. HOLY OPTIONS! My goal when I sat down at the table was to try some of everything. That’s not an easy challenge. I literally cannot even name everything that was on the table. From what I gathered from my seasoned table mates, the side dishes rotate, so you don’t always end up with the same meal. The meal cost per person was $22 and included all food, sweet tea, dessert, and tax. The payment is cash only, so come prepared.
This is the face I make when I’m surrounded by delicious smells.
We all seated and each grabbed a dish, piled it on our plates, and passed it along to the next person. I was fortunate to be seated by a bottleneck, so most of the dishes ended up resting around me – easy access for seconds!
My husband’s 1st plate
So despite my goals, it is literally impossible to try some of everything in one serving. The first plate only holds about 12 items – which gets you around half of the total spread, so a second plate is 100% required and necessary.
If I wrote about everything I ate, I would have to ditch the blog and start a novel, so let me just pick a few of my favorites.
This is what the dining room is known for, and it’s delicious. If you don’t like the cut that’s on the table, you can ask the kind servers for more white or dark meat, or a drumstick or thigh; whatever suits your fancy.
They weren’t quite pickled, but they were tossed in a vinegar dressing and herbs and they were delicious. I feel like I was eating a crunchy cuke fresh out of momma’s garden. Very refreshing and helps to break the heaviness of all the other delicious items on your plate.
I wish I knew the real name of this dish so I could Google a recipe (if any of you readers out there have any idea, please share!!). This was made from yellow squash, this much I could discern. It was a mushy dish, served warm. It was creamy yet fibrous from the squash; I loved the flavor, it was savory yet a little sweet, too.
Cream of Corn
The corn was my husband’s favorite; I’m not sure how he made room in his stomach, but he had three helpings of the corn. It was just the right consistency and had a well-balanced pairing of sweet and salty. The corn kernels were cooked so they still crunched when you bit into them.
It’s not southern without a solid side of collards. The bitterness of the greens was tamed by the savory seasoning and hint of pepper and spice.