Granny's is the love project of Valari and Aaron Dorsey - she's the head chef, and it's her grandmother, a professional chef in her own right, to whom Granny's pays tribute. From its early spring opening, the allure of all-day breakfast and Southern-influenced home cooking has drawn diners to its corporate strip location, former home of a hamburger chain, in Owings Mills.
Granny's serves a separate lunch and dinner menu, too. Think country fried steak, a turkey dinner and beef brisket. But for now, breakfast is Granny's calling card.
Granny's is a great name for a restaurant. It evokes not only a certain kind of cooking, but a down-home atmosphere, too. I had a vivid picture of wooden benches, checkered cloths and jam pots on the table. I had the food right but the ambience wrong. The menu features not only such classics as creamed chip beef over biscuits ($13.95), country fried steak and eggs ($12.95) and corned beef hash ($9.95), but some enticing regional items as well: cornbread or sweet potato pancakes ($8.95), fried chicken with waffles ($13.95) and salmon cake with eggs ($14.95).
The feel of the place, however, is upscale, with design elements like plush carpeting and elaborate window treatments, a wait staff outfitted in crisp white shirts and black ties, and up-tempo jazz music playing quietly over diners' conversation. Not what I was expecting, or maybe even wanting, but the Dorseys are no doubt thinking their place will have a better go of it if diners use it for more than just a chow-down.
It's already working. When we visited, at 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, Granny's was packed to the rafters, and the few tables that weren't occupied were being held for a party of 32 people. The hostess was sweet and truly sympathetic, and our wait was not as long as stated.
The real waiting started after we were seated. Although our server had an exceptionally good table presence, exhibiting knowledge and pride in the menu, he seemed undersupported by staff who were either unsure of their duties or shy about taking initiative. How much of this was attributable to the preparations for the big party and how much was a sign of new-restaurant jitters, it's hard to say.
The good news is that Valari Dorsey's food smooths over a lot of rough edges. The fried chicken and waffle dish (served, as are most breakfast entrees, with a choice of savory grits or breakfast potatoes and a choice of applesauce or fried apples) is just dandy with its golden buttermilk coating on four meaty wings, the accompanying waffle golden and pillowy. The corned beef hash is another winner, a meaty mix of lean beef and chopped potatoes, set alongside a generous serving of fluffy scrambled eggs.
Granny's entrees look nice on large square white plates. They're garnished simply, with an orange slice and a strawberry. But sometimes, a little flourish would help sell a dish that looks bland. The cornbread pancakes are delicious, especially doused with a homemade pecan syrup, but a sprinkling, say, of fresh corn kernels would sunny things up.
The only thing that just didn't taste right to me was the eggs Benedict, mostly because of an overly lemony hollandaise (it tasted like meringue), but also because its croissant base is not an improvement over a more manageable English muffin.
We made barely a dent into Granny's dinner menu, ordering up only two appetizers - some very salty Buffalo wings ($9.95) and a plate of fried okra ($6.95) that we would have liked more if the okra had been coated and fried intact instead of into little poppers. And I don't know if it's possible to save room for dessert at Granny's, but you should try. The desserts ($7.50 each) are homemade and very tempting. Our pick was a fresh peach cobbler, which turned out to be a pretty, little whole pie, plenty big enough for three people to share and farm-country good.
Granny's Where: 10995 Owings Mills Blvd., Owings Mills
Open: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Credit cards: All major
Prices: Entrees $7.95-$27.95, sides/appetizers $1.50-$10.95
Atmosphere: ** Â¿
[Outstanding: **** Good:*** Fair or uneven: ** Poor *]Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun