One of the downsides of being a semi-retired psychologist and part-time Pirate is that you can become lazy and/or complacent about “venturing forth” to try out new places to eat. Let’s just say the A (Adventure) in an aging suburban pirate’s life can get a bit stale. On the positive side, you can stay in your fuzzy robe and slippers all day long and decide to do the dishes tomorrow…or even the day after.
Loath that I am to leave my self-imposed suburban Atlanta bubble, imagine my surprise when I saw they were putting in a Gus’s World Famous Spicy Fried Chicken location not even a mile from my pirate ship/survival bunker/money pit/ haunted house in Sandy Springs. It replaces the dearly departed Clay’s Pub which was a time-warp recreation of a stereotypical “Wings and Suds” hangout from up north. The great news is that Clay’s has relocated and will soon occupy the Roswell Road strip mall location vacated by Jason’s Deli. To be honest, I grieved over Jason’s departure, not because Jason’s was so fabulous but because I swiped more free frozen yogurt and salad bar condiments from that eatery than probably anywhere else in metro Atlanta. Also, they never gave CaptCliff a hard time when they caught me foraging like a binge-eating squirrel on a mountain of bacon bits, sesame flatbread crackers, olives, brownie and blondie squares and assorted cut-up vegetables. But I digress…as usual. Anyway, also imagine my surprise when I pulled up to find out when Gus’s Fried Chicken was going to open only to see actual smiling patrons yucking it up inside while carrying around large plates of crispy fried chicken and fresh greens! Heck, last I saw there were still construction guys outside pulling wire and scratching their balls. They must have gone into warp drive to meet their contractual deadline and zoom through the final punch list with the owner. Maybe they were being paid in spicy fried chicken and sweet potato pie slices.
As a foodie and somewhat overweight person with little to no self-discipline, I immediately recognized that this was their “soft opening” and that it would be restricted to family, friends, and local folks with favorable connections. Without hesitation or a functioning super-ego I decided to channel Leo DiCaprio in the movie “Catch Me If You Can” and marched into the small but appealing restaurant storefront and asked for the manager. Among the at least twenty identically dressed employees and smiling servers (all adorned in GWFSFC t-shirts) the manager emerged only to apologize profusely and tell me the place wasn’t “officially” open until next week…as if that would deter me. By this time, however, I could already smell the chicken frying in it’s Tennessee (actually Memphis) style spicy batter and noticed a young couple getting down on what looked like really good mac ‘n cheese and fried okra. The next thing I know I found myself shamelessly morphing into Andrew Zimmern from the Food Channel and lying like a psychopath. I propped my $2 Dollar Store reading glasses at half mast (low on the nose) and told the manager I was a “travel and restaurant reviewer”. Oy, I know….you don’t have to tell me. Im going to culinary hell. With that I was personally introduced to the new franchise owner (I believe his name was John) and was ushered ceremoniously to a private table with these explicit instructions, “Get whatever you want. I want to know what you think”. Whoa. I guess hunger and gluttony are also the mother of invention as well as outright deception and trickery when necessary….
Ok, that was the amusing backstory for my minions that realize this is standard larcenous but not quite illegal practice for CaptCliff. Here’s the actual review: The fried chicken was very good. Initially I was afraid that Gus’s signature spicy take on Southern fried chicken (and everything else they make besides the desserts) would overwhelm my taste buds but instead found that it added a nice but not too mouth-numbing flavor. The meat was moist enough and the skin extra crispy with a good amount of bite. The greens, among all other things on the plate were excellent and quite fresh. I like that they were unadulterated with all other kinds of treyf and traditional southern additives like bacon fat, pig hoofs, squirrel and highway-to-table roadkill, etc.. I like to taste the actual fresh greens and Gus got it just right. Unlike some other online reviewers trolling other Gus’s locations, I did NOT find the coleslaw to be limp or watery and, in fact, it provided a nice if somewhat bland counterpoint to the cayenne pepper-infused main dish. The fried okra were similarly hot (temperature wise), fresh and while a tad commercial in their presentation and form (all the exact same size, color and battered texture) tasted quite good. The main take-away I got was that Gus’s goes for taste and consistency and attempts to establish a high franchise standard from the get-go (both in their limited menu and in the smiling service provided). There was a bit of a wait to get my order to the table but lying beggars and fake food critics can’t be choosers. Kudos to the attentive server as well who after the fourth time asking if I wanted a refill on my diet coke finally said, “I guess you want to savor that one…” After requesting a To Go box I snuck out the side door like a thief in the night, except that it was still only 4 PM and bright as day outside. Speaking of take-aways here’s my distilled reviewer take: Consider this place as a good and dependable place to get a moderately priced good-tasting meal of Memphis style fried chicken and sides all with a certain extra punch of peppery spicy goodness. I suppose I can’t really blame the free meal or Gus’s for the mild case of reflux I experienced later on. Perhaps that was just a bit of Jewish guilt……
Visited March 2017
4 of 5 bubbles
4 of 5 bubbles
4 of 5 bubbles