Polly’s Corner Cafe on Zebulon Road has long been known for its fried shrimp and fish, and was once considered one of the best in town for those items. Unless our visit was unusual, they seem to have lost their luster.
We visited on what we thought would be a busy time -- a Friday at 5:30 p.m. When we arrived, the smell of cigarettes from the bar upstairs lingered in the air of the entrance. Inside the cafe, there was one older couple and a grandmother and grandson who seemed to be enjoying their dinners. There were a few more diners in the second room but no one else arrived until we were leaving about 6:30 p.m.
The dining room is set up into two rooms with another (smoke-free) bar in the first room. The nautical decor was clean and comfortable, the right tone for a casual seafood restaurant. Our server was extremely friendly and helpful. Once we told her what interested us, she made suggestions that featured their best items and saved us money as combination orders.
We began with the most substantial potato skins I’ve ever seen. The regular ones were loaded with cheese, sour cream and bacon and the Mexican skins had jalapeños and chili added. For about $6 each, these really took the hunger edge off.
Our first order was a rib eye steak and shrimp for $21.95. The steak was generous and could have held its own as an entree. It was properly cooked as ordered, tender and juicy. The accompanying half dozen shrimp were plump and lightly battered -- unlike most fried shrimp in town -- but it was not the overwhelmingly amazing fried shrimp of years ago. The side garden salad was extremely ordinary, with iceberg lettuce and a ring of purple onion.
Our second entree was the sautéed shrimp and fried talapia plate. The flavor of the shrimp was good and garlicky, but they were a bit overcooked and chewy. The fried talapia was overfried to the point of being hard on the ends, and the flavor was just OK.
The hush puppies were the most successful of the sides, crunchy on the outside, perfect on the inside. The cheese grits were good, but it’s hard to go wrong with cheese grits. The slaw was oddly white and seemed almost puréed.
We only have a few seafood restaurants in Middle Georgia, but Polly’s Corner Cafe would be very low on my list the next time I have a craving for fish and shrimp. I hope they can get their mojo back and return to the top end of that list.
Polly’s Corner Cafe
Address: 6351 Zebulon Road, Macon
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit
Smoking: In upstairs bar
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 96
Price range: $7.95-$21.85
Rating: 2.5 stars