New Perry Hotel’s food both delighted and disappointed

chwright@macon.comMay 15, 2013 

When a North Carolina family rescued the New Perry Hotel almost two years ago, it guaranteed another eatery would not close in downtown Perry.

The New Perry Hotel does more than house travelers or stay-cationers. There’s also a restaurant and tavery, aka bar. The menu of those two combined is likewise divided. While it includes some really high points, the low points could deter patronage.

The restaurant opens at 5 p.m., so we had a couple glasses of wine at the tavery first. It was wine because that’s the only happy hour item. Definitely a first. Appetizers, though none compliment a glass of wine, aren’t available until the restaurant opens.

The new owners, led by Patty Johnson, kept the classic decor. It’s a comforting trip to the past, with cloth covering the tables and fresh roses in vases.

However, the appearance is disjointed from the menu. My colleague thought she was in for unpronounceable French items. Instead, we were greeted with a country cooking selection, which actually seemed fitting for a hotel in Middle Georgia.

She ordered the chicken dumplings. I selected the country fried steak.

Before we began, we were delivered two starters, which are given to every diner.

The celery soup was creamy and fantastic, but the round cracker proved to be a conundrum. My colleague and I took two approaches. I crumbled it into my soup. While it provides texture to the creamy soup, it powdered my hands and the black tablecloth. She bit into it whole, and decided it added nothing.

We also were served carrots, celery, radish and pickles on a plate. While a good idea, it was yet again confusing. The veggies were plopped onto a regular plate, the pickle juice dripped onto the carrots, and no sort of sauce was paired.

We went on to our appetizers of fried mushrooms and sweet potato fries. Both tasted store-bought and were fried to perfection. The fries were topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. As sweet potato fries always are, they were sweet and spectacular. But the mushrooms were bland and watery.

Our main courses were the best part of our meals -- well, at least the main parts of the main courses. The breading of the country-fried steak was seasoned perfectly and bonded lightly to the steak. The steak was a little overdone, but all was forgiven because of the fantastic breading. The dumplings were handmade and fresh.

But the sides had the same problem as the appetizers and soup. They seemed store-bought and unseasoned -- even the greens.

The restaurant did honor the Southern tradition of fried chicken, though. It took more than 20 minutes to cook, but it was everything one could hope for. The breading was seasoned well and fried to excellent crispiness.

We ended our meal with buckeye pie. It’s a New Perry Hotel original of peanut butter sandwiched between layers of chocolate. While it was a bit too rich for me, my colleague praised the dessert.

Overall, the meal was OK. The chef is talented with the items made in-house, but the restaurant failed when sending out food one could buy at a grocery store.

The prices were reasonable. For a meal that gave us leftovers and filled our bellies beyond capacity, we spent $40.

New Perry Hotel

Address: 800 Main St., Perry

Phone: (478) 224-1000

Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays; dinner 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays

Payment: Cash, credit, debit

Smoking: No

Alcohol: Yes

Kids Menu: No

Noise Level: Quiet

Health Rating: 98

Price range: $10-$20

Rating: 3

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