Monday, August 1, 2016

Marine Corps Vet Serves Authentic Southern Food

Meet James Paige & his Collard Green Café 


          Legendary Lunch in Tucker, Smoke Rise and Stone Mountain Park 

By Doc Lawrence

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA-James Paige serves a meal that takes customers back to an earlier time when food had flavor. Much of his talent with vegetables, meats, poultry and desserts is part of his heritage and early career.

The former Marine Corps cook honed his skills while on active duty in San Diego. “I learned food service-preparation and management- in the Marines,” he told me, “and I knew what I wanted to do with my life from then on.”

"The best Pork Chops In Georgia," says Mr. Paige.
Paige, a soft-spoken man grew up in Savannah, a center of great southern cooking, and serves customers six days a week at his intimate café that offers a full view of mighty Stone Mountain.

I’m no stranger to Collard Green’s food. Back in 1998, I regularly dined there with the great Southern food finder, Frank Spence when the café was located in Toco Hills beside the Emory University campus. Spence, a retired top executive with the Atlanta Falcons and one of Georgia’s most trusted guides to good local dining said that Collard Green understood the importance of authentic seasoning. “Vegetables,” according to him, “lose something when tradition is tossed out. Our parents and ancestors knew how to prepare beans, peas, okra, barbecue and cornbread that satisfied. That’s exactly what Mr. Paige accomplishes today.”

This week, Paige informed me, he was serving legendary peach cobbler. My grandchildren fondly remember this dessert along with his fried chicken from their days at Druid Hills High School. Precious memories are made during lunch.

Collard Green Café is about two blocks off the Stone Mountain Freeway (Hugh Howell Road exit), literally minutes from Tucker, Smoke Rise and Stone Mountain Park. I never eat at the horrible franchise junk food outlets dotting the area and pray that James Paige and his delightful restaurant will open someday real soon near my home in Stone Mountain Historic Village.

Marine Corps Veteran Paige was featured in the AJC
High School, College and NFL football kicks off this month. Tailgating-one of their specialties- takes on new meaning when you load up with good eats at Collard Green Café. Tell James Doc sent you!

Collard Green Café is located at 1535 Lilburn-Stone Mountain Road at the intersection with Hugh Howell Road. (770) 879-1113. Take-out also available. 11-6, Monday through Saturday. The prices are the lowest in the region. The food is fresh and the conversation is free.

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