FORT VALLEY -- Sometimes you have to choose between quantity and quality, but not at Lane Southern Orchards. I won’t need to eat for a week after the spread we had last week at Lane’s Peachtree Cafe.
Let’s start with the hot bar: you can choose all you want from fried chicken, chicken and rice, hamburger steaks, mashed potatoes, lima beans, creamed corn, okra and mac and cheese. Add another $2.99 and you can also choose from four daily soups and make yourself a salad.
We wanted to go beyond the hot bar, so we also ordered from the regular menu. The shrimp po boy was chock full of fried shrimp and had the right amount of remoulade and lettuce on a hoagie roll. It comes with a side, like sweet potato fries. We also tried the chicken salad sandwich, which was really, really cold and tasty and also comes with a side.
Other choices include the homemade barbecue, the French dip sandwich, various paninis and Reubens. Or you could pick a juicy hamburger topped with Swiss, mushrooms, bleu cheese or barbecue sauce, or just a classic cheeseburger. They also have fish and chips and turkey burgers.
But what we really came for were the desserts. The soft serve peach ice cream is a delightful melange of sweet and tart and soft and cold. There is also strawberry ice cream, but I never managed to choose anything but the peach.
There are always two cobblers. We chose the peach (of course) but the blackberry looked quite good as well. Caroline Lane’s peach cobbler hits the spot for a crunchy, sweet dessert. We also tried the pecan pie bar (ridiculously good), peach fritter (gigantic), the peach fried pie (again, how can you go wrong with peaches and fried dough?), and a super-size butter pecan cookie (yum).
Other choices include fried pies filled with pecans, apples or strawberry filling; several different types of the super-size cookies; cinnamon rolls, cheesecake and lots of muffins. They also have peach bread that makes great French toast.
If you’ve never been to Lane Southern Orchards, it’s best to make a morning or afternoon of it. Strawberries are in season right now, so we grabbed a bucket and filled it up with those tart and tasty jewels. A little later, the place will be full of peaches and you can watch from the catwalk above the work floor as the employees separate out the best ones. If you still have any money left after that, you can shop from the loads of items for sale, such as cinnamon pecans, jams, jellies, salad dressings and salsas.
Once you’re stuffed and have a box of goodies to take home, sit for a spell in a rocker out front. Enjoy the view of peach trees and the children running around the strawberry patch. And then maybe have some more ice cream.
Lane Southern Orchards’ Peachtree Cafe
Address: 50 Lane Road, just off Ga. 96, Fort Valley
Phone: (800) 277-3224
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Medium
Health Rating: 95
Price range: $6.95 and up
Rating: 3 stars