published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Wanda’s Restaurant: Good old Southern cooking in a jif

A recent daily special at Wanda’s in Rock Spring, Ga., included, clockwise from right, turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, cottage cheese with peaches, and turnip greens.
A recent daily special at Wanda’s in Rock Spring, Ga., included, clockwise from right, turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, cottage cheese with peaches, and turnip greens.

IF YOU GO

* Where: Wanda’s Restaurant, 20 Pin Oak Drive, Rock Spring, Ga.

* Phone: 706-764-1633.

* Website: www.wandasrestaurant.com.

* Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.

* Price range: 75 cents (cheese biscuit)-$24.95 (Saturday Night Special of two plate-sized rib-eye steaks, two baked potatoes, two salads and drink).

Drive through Rock Spring, Ga., on Highway 27, and you can’t help notice all the cars and trucks parked in front of Wanda’s Restaurant.

If you drive past enough times — and keep hearing good things about it, like I did — it’s hard not to be drawn in. Especially if you like log cabins, like I do. Wanda’s is inside a big cabin, with deer heads on the wall and ceiling fans overhead. It’s got a homey feel, and the food — which comes fast and hot — lives up to the “Good Old Country Cooking” billing on the menu.

THE MENU

There are two menus at Wanda’s: They give you the standard menu inside a plastic folder — with a daily menu attached to it. The daily menu is a form that’s filled out in neat handwriting, and the items change, well, daily. They rotate meats, vegetables and homemade desserts.

If you want a preview, check Wanda’s Facebook page. They post the daily menu there.

On the daily menu, a meat-and-three costs $6.70, a meat-and-two $5.95. Vegetable-only plates are less expensive at $4 for three and $4.75 for four.

A highlight of the regular menu is the Saturday Night Special: two steaks, two baked potatoes, two salads and two drinks for $24.95. Not a bad price for date night. Sandwiches are all under $4, ranging from peanut butter and jelly ($1.50) to country ham ($3.50) and a large bacon cheeseburger ($3.75).

After the Saturday Night Special, the most expensive dinner is the eight-piece shrimp ($8.50).

The breakfast menu has about 40 items, including variations of eggs with meat, omelets, pancakes and biscuits. Hearty breakfasts include Wanda’s Omelet ($6.75), two pancakes with bacon or sausage ($4.50) and two eggs with country ham ($6.75).

THE ORDER

On my first lunchtime visit, the daily meat-and-two options included meatloaf ($5.95). This was a big, thick slab, too, and nicely seasoned. It didn’t require ketchup. My sides were coleslaw and pickled beets, each in its own separate dish. Both sides were right on the money.

The next lunch was the day before Thanksgiving, so I ordered turkey and dressing with two sides ($5.95) off the daily menu. I liked the plate, which came with a dollop of cranberry sauce. The shredded turkey was mixed in with the peppery dressing, instead of separate, which I liked. The turnip greens were great, especially with some of the pickled pepper vinegar on the table. Cottage cheese with peaches meant I didn’t need dessert, though all the options — especially the peanut butter pie — looked good.

THE SERVICE

It was busy the first time I visited for lunch, and the waitress apologized for being a little slow to get to my table and take my order. But once she did, the food was there fast. The second lunch wasn’t as crowded. The server came quickly, got my water while I checked the daily menu, and took my order when she got back. My turkey-and-dressing lunch and two sides appeared like lightning. It reminded me of a certain sandwich chain that prides itself on having “freaky fast” service. It’s easy to see why Wanda’s packs them in for lunch.

THE SPACE

The log cabin that houses Wanda’s is huge. Some two dozen tables hold a minimum of four diners, and there is also counter seating. You could easily fit a wedding reception in the place. (Don’t know if Wanda’s does weddings, though.) Still, it’s homey.

THE VERDICT

I looked forward to going back to Wanda’s after my first visit, and I’d go again. The prices are great, the food’s good, the service is fast — lightning fast once — and it’s fun to eat inside a log cabin. What more could you ask for?

Contact Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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