A.L. “Drew” Thomas and his wife, Stephanie, have been serving up simple home-cooked meals in their present location for more than 15 years now. The former dentist’s office (circa the 1960s) has a cozy, diner-inspired, family-friendly atmosphere. A wall of windows opens to an enclosed garden patio, complete with a rock wall and lattice roof. It is an attractive feature that lets in a lot of light. The interior is reminiscent of some of our favorite local treasures, both laid-back and authentic.
The Chicken Fried Steak ($8.49 for two pieces or $11.49 for three pieces) with tender beef cube steak inside and a crispy, peppery crust is served with either brown or cream gravy. Mind your manners and go for two pieces. Besides, you need to save room for dessert. The gravy is good, but the chicken fried steak can stand on its own. We ordered ours with a side of fresh mashed potatoes and brown gravy, and slow-cooked green beans flavored with bacon. Other hearty sides include fried okra, red beans, cabbage and corn. Don’t forget your choice of freshly brewed iced or sweet iced tea.
The specialty of the house has to be the smothered pork chops (also $8.49 for two pieces or $11.49 for three pieces). It is one of the most ordered menu items, with crispy fried chicken coming in a close second. A velvety breaded coating covers these fork-tender pork chops, and a ladle of brown gravy tops them off. Add a side of not-too-sugary candied yams, and bitter, chopped collard greens, and you’ve got one soulful dish. A simple corn muffin stands ready to mop up any remaining gravy. That’s what it is there for; so don’t be ashamed to use it.
Desserts are sold by the slice and can be seen in the glass pie case by the front door. We loved the Sweet Potato Pie ($2.59). It was thicker and richer tasting than its close cousin pumpkin pie, with plenty of ginger and clove in the mix. The crust was nothing to write home about, but the filling was just fine. You can’t go wrong with a slice of Pecan Pie ($2.95) either. The filling tastes homemade, not gelatinous like so many store-bought recipes, boasting a thick coating of chewy pecan halves on top. But Drew’s is most known for the simple Italian Cream Cake ($2.75) made fresh in-house. The very moist white cake folds in a few pecans and is frosted with traditional butter cream icing.
This no-nonsense diner is usually packed during lunch rush and more relaxed during the dinner hours. No matter when you visit, you will be welcomed like family and treated to a throw-back from the days of Sunday Brunch at grandma’s house.
The food here is typical Southern-style cuisine. From fried catfish to Buffalo wings and from collard greens to handmade mashed potatoes, you might feel like you stepped back in time, when slow cooking was the rule rather than the exception. Take a trip to Drew’s Place and refresh your memory.