- Private Lot
🙂 = Large, private parking lot. High chairs. Kids menu available, PLUS you get a coloring book with multiple pages and crayons. Fun, kid-friendly atmosphere and warm, welcoming staff that gives wonderful service. The food has a nice, down-home feel. They use the Square app for payment, which is kind of nice – parents don’t have to worry about fiddling with pens and receipts. Vegetarian options available.
🙁 = The restaurant is pretty far up I-75 and might not be in a convenient location for some folks. No changing table in the bathroom. The food is decent, but may not impress bona fide foodies.
Note for Vegans: One of the guests in our party was vegan, and he didn’t really have any good options to choose from the menu. He ended up ordering grits (no butter or cheese) and fruit.
Like many other toddlers, we love superheroes. Our faves are the usual suspects – Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk. So when Mommy told us we were having brunch with a real life superhero, we got super duper excited. (We just hoped it wouldn’t be Incredible Hulk because he would probably eat all our food.)Mommy and Daddy loaded our intrigued little selves into the car and drove a long, long way, all the way up I-75, to a smallish restaurant on a somewhat remote stretch of Cobb Parkway called Crooked Tree Café. When we walked in, we were greeted by a chalkboard sign that read, “We like pork butts and we cannot lie” along with a hand-drawn picture of the back of a pig. For some reason, that sign made Mommy snicker. She’s so weird.
The hostess led us to a large table where a handful of people were already seated. Mommy and Daddy knew a couple of them, but we had never met them before. Mommy led us to a pretty lady sitting next to a young girl about our age and said, “Guys, meet Ms. Jennifer. She’s a real life superhero. And this is her 4-year-old daughter, Emily.” We weren’t sure what to make of this. Ms. Jennifer looked like any other mommy to us. Then Mommy told us that Ms. Jennifer got sick when Emily was just a little baby. Ms. Jennifer had to take special medicines to help heal her sickness. She took them for a long time, even though they made her feel tired and made her hair fall out. She thought the medicines made her all better. Then, when Emily was three, she found out she was sick again – and she had to take the medicines again. Mommy said, “Ms. Jennifer is really strong and is fighting a very hard fight against her sickness. She may have to take these medicines for a very long time. That’s why she’s a superhero.” (You can read more about Ms. Jennifer’s battle here.)
We don’t understand much about the kind of sickness Ms. Jennifer has, but the fact that she is fighting this really hard fight makes her super cool in our books. And Emily was even cooler. She taught us some new jokes, like “What do you call a pig that does karate? A pork chop!” After a few minutes of bonding over jokes and coloring books (which the restaurant provided, by the way), we were ready to chow down with our new friend and her superhero mom.
Crooked Tree Cafe specializes in good ol’ down-home cooking. Although Crooked Tree has a kids menu, we decided to share with our folks off the adult menu. Since we love BBQ, it didn’t take us long to decide on the Smoked Brisket Hash, an order of Stone Ground Grits (with cheese), and a short stack (2) of Roasted Banana Pancakes. Ms. Jennifer is pescetarian, so she ordered the Veggie Scramble. And our new friend Emily had some scrambled eggs and a fluffy biscuit with homemade peach jelly.
Overall, the food was satisfying. We think the Smoked Brisket Hash could’ve used a little more flavor, and we know Daddy and Mommy would’ve doused it with hot sauce had they not been sharing with us. The Roasted Banana Pancakes were absolutely delightful, though – and they were huge. Even though we ordered a “short stack,” we ended up taking half our order home in a to-go box. The absolute best part of our meal was the biscuits. They were big, fluffy, and buttery – a perfect example of one of the things we love most about the South. We enjoyed slathering them with peach jelly, squishing the two halves together, and letting the sweet, sticky filling ooze onto our little fingers so we could lick it up.
After we finished eating, we got to chat a little more with Ms. Jennifer and Emily. We learned all about Ms. Jennifer’s teaching career (she was an elementary school teacher up until her most recent diagnosis). We learned about her husband, Mr. Jason’s, career as an assistant professor at a local college. And we learned a little bit about Emily – her favorite color (purple), sport (soccer), and Disney characters (not surprisingly, a free-spirited queen with the power to make snowmen live forever is high on her list). We felt lucky to be on such friendly terms with a real superhero and superhero’s daughter. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to channel some of Ms. Jennifer’s superhero resilience the next time we’re facing a really tough challenge. She inspires us.
As for our thoughts on the restaurant, Crooked Tree Café is a good place for a casual meal in a very kid-friendly environment. We probably won’t go out of our way to visit again, but we’ll definitely stop by if we’re in the area. After all, a real-life superhero mommy has been there. You can’t beat that.