This week there was a post at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution site about Georgia lawmakers considering a proposal to drop down to accepting $100 per day (!) in gifts from lobbyists. One example given was that a legislator could have a meal at Rathbun’s, clocking in at just under the limit, which the author mentioned was not exactly meat-and-three.
…and if I were looking for something exactly at $100, I’d be in Nashville rather than Atlanta, sitting at The Catbird Seat where there’s no menu and what’s served is whatever the chef found most fresh and most inspiring that day.
The last time we had meat-and-three in Georgia — we do this at least weekly at home in Alabama — was a few months ago in Dalton when we were making a trip from the aquarium in Chattanooga to (mainly) IKEA in Atlanta and the boys were hungry for lunch. We looked downtown for something non-chain and found this classic with a neon sign…
Oakwood Cafe. Then even better, it was a nice meat-and-three with plenty of choices, the offerings fairly shouting at us in all-caps. ‘Take ME!’ said the crowder peas and deviled eggs. ‘Here I AM!’ from the blackeyed peas and greens.
Outside the South, meat-and-threes are not as well-known, but at Tart in Los Angeles, they explain: The name derives from an offering of any meat and three vegetable side dishes for a set price. In the Southern United States, it often comes with a bread roll or cornbread in lieu of a vegetable; elsewhere potato is the main starch. Often, the menu is set, typically at a fixed price. Except…I don’t think that’s really accurate, as breads are included, but not in lieu of a vegetable. I know of plenty of places that you can substitute a cobbler or banana pudding for a vegetable, but not a bread. Bread you just get anyway.
Tart does get extra points, though, for including a recipe for watermelon rind pickles (although you really can cut off all the pink). My faves! And extra-extra points for offering bottomless mimosas. Nice.