I have been waiting to go to Georgia Reese’s for a bit to give them a chance to work out the opening kinks. I had heard there were times when they were out of certain things and I didn’t want to take the chance that they might run out of fried chicken. Well, when we walked in, this first thing I noticed was that it was jammed. Liked literally, standing room only, every square inch taken with people. I thought, hey, we have a reservation, so we’ll be fine. Well, as it turned out, ALL of the people waiting had reservations. So, first thing—they are either overbooking or the kitchen is too slow. Either way, they need to figure that out. We managed to get a seat at the bar after about 10-15 minutes of waiting. One friend was told by the bartender that they didn’t have vermouth to make the drink he wanted. So, not a good start. We ended up getting seated 30 minutes after our reservation time.
When we did get seated, our server, while a bit frantic, was pretty quick about taking our orders (we did wait later when we just wanted more drinks). We quickly ordered some apps—the deviled eggs ($6.95), the volcano hot rocks (their version of oysters Rockefeller) ($3.75 for 2) and the alligator poppers ($9.95). The best things were the alligator poppers—they were quite spicy. Hubby could barely believe they were actually jalapeno peppers inside there and not a spicier pepper. But they were whole peppers stuffed with spicy cream cheese, and apparently alligator, but I couldn’t really distinguish it amongst the other things. Again, they had some heat, and a nice crispy exterior. They served it with a lemon-chive aioli that was strangely thin in consistency. But overall, I liked them.
Deviled eggs are something I really like and they were good as well. They give you a classic version, a shrimp version, an asparagus version, and a smoked salmon version. I liked that the filling had a fair amount of acid (lemon I assume) and the eggs tasted fresh. They were a nice variation from what ended up being a lot of fried stuff.
The volcano hot rocks? Well, they were just downright bad. The oysters were not fresh and smelled bad. Really bad. One friend actually spit hers out of her mouth. That bad. I’m not going to go into more detail about this, because you get the picture, but if they aren’t turning over oysters fast enough to keep them fresh, these should be taken off the menu. Fast.
As we moved into our entrées, I was excited to try the fried chicken ($16.95). Of course I was. You get four pieces-a breast, wing, leg and thigh. The chicken was fried really well—super crisp on the outside. I particularly enjoyed the dark meat pieces, as they were nice and juicy. The breast got a bit dry, as they often do. The biggest problem with the dish, and honestly most of our dishes, was it was under-seasoned. Add some seasoning into the breading mix and you could have some killer fried chicken. Heck, even salt helped (and our salt shaker made its rounds around our table several times). The entrées come with two sides and I enjoyed my sides of Indiana creme corn and mac and cheese. The mac had some texture to it, from actual cheese—again it wasn’t super seasoned, but would have been the perfect balance with the chicken if the chicken had been a little spicier. I liked the creme corn as well—had a nice crunch from corn and diced onions. Again, a sweet mild flavor, but tasty. As they were, I’d order both again.
My friend’s fried catfish was similar in its preparation. It was well cooked, the fish tender and the breading nice and crisp—it just needed more flavor. Because she had read too many reviews beforehand complaining about the lack of spice, she brought tobasco and garlic salt in her purse (that’s how she rolls). After the addition of these, that fish was pretty darn tasty! They just need to amp it up a bit themselves. The same was true of the order of fried green tomatoes ($5.95) we had as a side as well (it’s actually an app, but we wanted some on the side, so we ordered them with our dinner). Nice crunch, not much flavor in the crust. Also, the tomatoes were a little thick for my taste—I like ‘em a bit thinner so your ratio of crust to tomato is more balanced.
Hubby ordered the fried bologna sandwich ($8.95) and he really, really liked it. It had a lot of good stuff on it—some more fried green tomatoes, and lime aioli. There were also some greens on there. Nice variation in texture and flavors—I liked the crunch of the tomatoes with the slightly crisped bologna and the tangy aioli. This might have been the best thing we had as an entrée overall. The sandwiches come with one side and hubby got onion rings—these were more of the onion string variety, which I like a fair amount. I can’t say these seemed house made and were similar to those you could get anywhere.
Overall, I think Georgia Reese’s has potential. It obviously is drawing a large crowd (a bit too large perhaps) and I like the vibe of the place. They have live music on the weekends that started while we were there and was nice. You could hear it without it being so loud you couldn’t talk. The place has definitely got a buzz to it. I think the foundation of the food is mostly good—they just need to loosen up with seasonings—everything was pretty universally under-seasoned (even salt would help). If they do this (and take the oysters off the menu or else keep them fresher), as well as figure out their reservations issues, this could be a really great place to get a southern meal in an upscale atmosphere, which is something Indy doesn’t really have. Also they do a big weekend brunch, which is a nice addition as well. I would love to hear what you guys think if you have been there.
3454 West 86th Street