Summer is already arriving at Countryside Café in the form of fresh produce, which is used in from scratch recipes that bring back the taste of southern traditions and family dinners.
"Now that we are in the midst of summer, Countryside is thinking about the summer produce we will be getting and how we can make good, fresh foods from them," says Marlene Geren, who owns and operates the restaurant with her husband, Ponder. "We are preparing food all day long. It takes a team of employees that understand how to keep our food fresh and are constantly replacing our supply. They do an outstanding job."
Countryside offers a new menu selection every day and almost every our. To achieve this, the restaurant's kitchen is constantly bustling with cooks from 8 in the morning until the restaurant closes. Many of the cooks have been working at Countryside since it opened 23 years ago in May 1990.
Most of the recipes used are originals from Geren's mother and grandmother, but others have been brought in from the cooks' families or created through experimentation. The recipes are only part of the secret; the rest of the delicious flavor comes from the quality and freshness of the ingredients, says Geren.
"We can't wait until we buy local, homegrown tomatoes that pair perfectly with our skillet-fried okra, but we have a few more weeks to wait on those," she says. "We serve fried green tomatoes on Tuesday evenings along with our large selection of fish, which includes fresh trout that is brought in very week from North Carolina."
Currently, Countryside is receiving fresh squash and zucchini. The staff fries them up most evenings and uses them for delicious casseroles on the weekends. Vidalia onions are also in season and are a tasty addition to the restaurant's hamburger teaks, on top of grilled chicken and as an addition to the other homemade recipes.
Strawberries are also coming into season locally and re-used for Countryside's cobblers, pies and famous strawberry shortcake. Geren encourages guests to remember as summer celebrations get in full swing that Countryside can cater events of all sizes at any location. Whether it's a family reunion or office get-together, a barbecue party or someone just needing sides or a dessert o top off their meal, Countryside can make having a delicious dish even sweeter through no mess and no hassle.
"If you are eager to be outside and play and don't want to eat in, pick up your food and take it to your oat, your ball park or picnic bench," says Geren. "For picnics, the roasted chicken breasts, our hand-battered chicken tenders or grilled chicken tenders are perfect. We also go through pans of banana pudding." ?
LOCATION: 8223 Mahan Gap Road.
HOURS: Monday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
NICE TO KNOW: Geren says many celebrities and other fun personalities have dined at the restaurant and it isn't unusual to sit down next to country music singers, a bluegrass band, gospel singers, TV personalities from "Call of the Wild" and "Swamp People" or a few local celebrities.