Everyone loves “charming.” Call it quaint or call it grandma’s house, either way it makes you feel at home. The Swanson restaurant in Perry has just that feeling.
On Perry’s main square, surrounded by some of the most charming shops in the state, the Swanson is the former home of a Perry mayor and Perry’s first kindergarten. Each room in this 1790s house is decorated with elegant antiques that purvey a casual but sophisticated ambience to the dining experience.
After we ordered our entrees and sides, we received a basket of the world’s tiniest biscuits. More dumpling than traditional biscuits, these buttery little treats make it difficult not to fill up before your meal. While we waited, we watched the regulars come for their early bird dinners.
First, we tried the pot roast with macaroni and cheese and squash casserole. It all tasted like the old days, when most people cooked at home. If you weren’t fortunate enough to experience Sunday dinners at grandma’s, you should go just to understand what all the fuss was about.
The servings are generous but not overwhelmingly large. For $8.95, the experience is well worth the price.
Next, we had the fried chicken with congealed salad and fried okra. The chicken was properly fried but the okra was fried until it was tiny and tasteless. The congealed salad was an excellent example of why Southerners love fruit in their Jello.
Of course, we had to try the meatloaf with sweet potato soufflé and cornbread dressing. The meatloaf was tender and juicy, topped with ketchup just like you want it to be. The sweet potatoes were not too sweet and complemented the cornbread dressing.
We also tried the chicken and dumplings and the trio salad platter. The chicken salad was a big favorite at our table as was the slightly spicy pimiento cheese. The pasta salad was rather ordinary, but no worse than any other pasta salad.
Entrees costing more than $10 each include Apalachicola oysters for $13.95, Alaskan grilled salmon in lemon and dill for $14.95, and the Swanson 12-ounce ribeye for $19.95. On Fridays and Saturdays only, you can order prime rib until it’s gone, $16.95 for a queen cut or $19.95 for a king cut.
The restaurant hosts Sunday lunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., highlighting its famous fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs. For $10.95 per adult and $7.95 per child, you get two sides and dessert with your choice of baked chicken and dressing, fried chicken, meatloaf, pot roast, broiled tilapia, chicken and dumplings, baked ham or salmon croquettes.
While some of the food items were hit and miss, just the beautiful surroundings, quaint town and wraparound porch make it worth the drive to Perry.
Address: 933 Carroll St., Perry
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 100
Price range: $6.95-$19.95
Rating: 3 stars