The common approbation where the locals eat does not necessarily mean a restaurant is good. Lots of locals frequent mediocre places. But residents of Georgia’s Warren County who eat at Miss Jane’s Restaurant are on to a very good thing. The town of Warrenton is a far piece from just about everywhere and it’s not really on the way to anywhere, so logic says that most of the people who eat here live nearby. Miss Kathryn, who runs the cafe and settles up with customers at a register at the end of the cafeteria line, knows virtually everyone who comes for breakfast and lunch. (Miss Jane’s closes at 1:30pm.) As for me – a stranger – she hospitably inquired where I was from and made extra sure I enjoyed my meal.
Oh, boy, did I enjoy it. This place is Roadfood to the nth degree – an extremely casual, unpretentious, small-town treasure with a menu of regional favorites made from scratch. The food is homey, for sure, but the adjective “homestyle” doesn’t quite apply. What you get here is not so much home cooking as it is Main Street, town-cafe cooking … at its finest.
For example, fried chicken this succulent is less like what you’d find on a typical family dinner table than it is the creation of a seriously talented cuisinier. Not that there’s anything swanky about it, not at all. But the melting crunch of its brittle crust and the juice-dripping flavor of the meat inside are not the work of an amateur. Likewise, sweet potatoes, which are fairly plain (no marshmallows, no nuts, no brown-sugar crown), retain a wonderful tuberous texture and are just-right sweet. And creamed corn, which typically is sweet enough to pass as pudding, is as much vegetable-sweet as it is sugar-sweet.
Cakes and pies are like what you’d expect at a church supper where those who make them are strutting their stuff. They’re not flashy and proud; like everything else here, they are modest-sized and modest looking. But they are an eating experience that speaks of tall talent in the kitchen. My favorite dish, so far, has been what’s billed as “strawberry salad” but really is dessert: a mix of sugared, chopped-fine berries, little pieces of pound cake, and Cool Whip: audacious and delicious Americana in a bowl.