In a bright, modern dining room with woodsy-rustic ambience, Fish Eye Grill serves model Dixie fare, cafeteria style. The meat and vegetable choices are not as extensive as in a giant cafeteria, but I’ve yet to find anything that is less than excellent.
Brisket is a big surprise. BBQ-wise, this is pork country, and Fish Eye pork is swell; but the slow-cooked brisket is not to be missed. It is lean and yet luxurious, piled on the plate in great beefy shreds that include crunchy burnt ends among their juicy succulence. Luscious as the brisket is, it gets even better when drizzled with BBQ sauce that is slightly sweet with a mustard twang.
Burke County, Georgia, straddles what Roadfood’s Chickenplucker calls the “Hash/Stew Line of Demarcation,” meaning that to the east and north, BBQ’s essential side dish is known as hash, whereas to the west and south. it’s more likely to be called Brunswick stew. Hash tends to be mostly meat; stew generally has more vegetables. When I asked the server if she was dipping into Brunswick stew or hash to accompany my brisket, she looked at me with a big grin and responded, “It’s both!” It is a hearty dish, substantial enough and diverse enough that a plateful on a pile of rice could be a meal by itself.
Other tantalizing sides: potent collard greens with faint pepper bite, earthy cornbread dressing, luxurious mac ‘n’ cheese made with penne pasta, and blocks of creamy corn bread.
Portions are generous and the savory food is all so good that one runs the risk of annihilating appetite before dessert. That would be a mistake, for desserts are a highlight at Fish Eye Grill. Banana pudding is especially fine — a stratified hill of cookies, custard, banana discs, and cream in which each element maintains its essential quality (crisp cookies, silky custard, fruity banana, ethereal cream), forming the grand coalition that is banana pudding at its finest.
Eclair cake, which layers a ribbon of dark chocolate atop custard atop a Graham cracker crust, is another sweet-tooth delight. It is indeed reminiscent of an eclair, but its thick chocolate glaze and cream filling might remind a Yankee of Boston cream pie.
A bustling, enthusiastic staff adds happy energy to the experience of eating at this new (since August, 2018) restaurant. It isn’t near a major travel destination, but it is well worth a detour if you seek a genuine southern meal, a friendly place, and killer dessert.
Note that Fish Eye Grill is open only Thursday through Sunday.