You’ll do a double-take when you drive into the parking lot and find an old church building, but you’ll be tempted to shout “Hallelujah” when you taste the mouthwatering Southern dishes served inside.
Location: 204 Morgan Street, LaGrange, Georgia.
Menu: If you’re from the South, you’re sure to declare that lunches at Taste of Lemon are the closest you can find to the ones your Momma and Grandmomma used to put on the table. Every day, Monday through Saturday, diners may choose from seven or eight meat dishes and at least 10 vegetable sides. The menu changes often, but on a recent visit, the entrees included baked ham, chicken and dumplings, lasagna, pork roast, country-fried steak, salmon croquettes, hamburger steak and lemon pepper chicken. Vegetable side dishes ran the gamut from creamed potatoes, fried okra, green beans, carrots and corn to rutabagas, cabbage, turnip greens, sweet potatoes and lima beans.
You can actually order a vegetable plate with a serving of ALL TEN vegetables, but the more common choices are a meat and three combo, or a meat and two with the restaurant’s signature dish of pineapple casserole. An array of salads are available for those wanting to eat lighter fare, but the tempting homemade desserts will likely tip the scales in the calorie-counting department.
The pineapple casserole, by the way, makes a frequent appearance at church covered-dish suppers in the Bible Belt. It is a mixture of pineapple chunks, grated cheddar cheese, sugar, flour, butter and crushed Ritz crackers, baked and served piping hot. A decadent side dish, to be sure.
Thoughts: The building housing Taste of Lemon is a delightful feast for the eyes with its lemon-colored walls, original floors and plaster and the church-style windows and ceilings. The structure, dating back to 1892, first served as the home for the Second Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of LaGrange and was located at the corner of Addie Street and Hines Street. It continued to be a church until 1974, then stayed vacant for two years. From 1976-1980, it was the S & T Furniture Store. Richard and Betty Daniel bought the building, moved it and remodeled it into a restaurant in 1982. Later, the City Council decided to construct an off-ramp involving the exact space where the restaurant sat. Once again, the Daniels moved the building, wanting to preserve the unique Victorian-Gothic architecture and continue operating their restaurant inside its walls.
Thirty-six years later, happy eaters are still enjoying delicious dishes. Richard and Betty’s daughter, Donna Close, now serves as the general manager. She arrives early to prepare all of the salads for the day and greets guests while assuring that everything goes smoothly and diners leave happy. The walls are lined with art created by Donna’s husband Steve who taught art at LaGrange High School.
In addition to the menu items mentioned earlier, on another day you might find fried pork chops, meatloaf, BBQ ribs, chicken pot pie, ham and Swiss quiche, sherry chicken or vegetable beef soup with the side dishes of zipper peas, speckled butter beans or mac and cheese. It all depends on the whims of the cooks. Desserts for the day might be buttermilk pie, peach cobbler, fudge brownie and pound cake or other seasonal goodies. No wonder the locals keep going back and visitors arrive with high expectations.
Price range: The meat and three plates and the salad plates are $9.25. The 10-veggie plate is $8.00, and a smaller one with only 5 veggies is $7.20. Tea is $1.75, which is very important to know when you’re in the South. If you book a table for a group, you can get a full plate with tea, dessert, including gratuity for $16.50.
Disclosure: The author received a complimentary meal to facilitate this review.
Connie's book "Telling It On The Mountain: 52 Days in the Life of an Unlikely Missionary" was published in 2016 and is available on Amazon.In addition to her blog, www.theregoesconnie.com, she is a regular contributor to The Yums,Trip101.com, MilesGeek.com, Epicurean-Traveler.com, ShortWeeks-LongWeekends.com and other print and online travel publications.