The Fickle Pickle, Roswell GA

If you’ve never taken my advice before, listen to me now: do not arrange to meet friends at The Fickle Pickle. You should definitely go, and you should absolutely plan to enjoy a delicious lunch in the company of your buddies, but seriously; this place has the dinkiest parking lot imaginable. It gets really busy on the weekends, at which point downtown Roswell’s lack of overflow parking impacts everybody’s happiness. Get everybody together at somebody’s house ahead of time, and carpool in as few vehicles as possible. You’ll do everybody a favor.

In many previous chapters in this story, I’ve shared reports of what I call menu envy, which is that particular condition of sitting down to what you thought was going to be a swell meal, only to find that somebody else at your table – or, too often in my case, everybody else at my table – has ordered something even tastier than what you got. I’m very happy to say that, for my birthday last week, just about everybody else at our table had envy over my fried green tomato sandwich. Even if they didn’t know they had that envy, or were perfectly satisfied with their own sandwiches, which I’m sure were terrific, they were eating something flatly inferior to my order. This sandwich… well, let me start by saying that the Blue Willow Inn out in Social Circle probably has better fried green tomatoes, but that would be it in the region. The tomatoes are amazing. Served up on fresh bread with a tomato jam, pepperjack cheese, greens, white onions and a thin smear of basil mayo, the kitchen is making magic. I haven’t had a better sandwich in a very, very long time. The only person at the table who was not envious of my sandwich was Kimberly, who also had the good sense and fortune to order one.

Everybody’s sandwiches were really wonderful, and they each come with a very good side. Marie was very happy with her tomato basil soup, and I was very taken with my chili. The real winner, though, apart from the sandwiches, is the top choice on their appetizer board. The fried pickles here are to die for. They’re simply out of this world, crunchy and juicy and served with a really wonderful remoulade sauce. Order accordingly: a full basket is enough for four, and you’ll certainly feel very guilty letting any of these go to waste.

While I can’t praise the food here enough, I also think the service is far better than the average. The owners have done themselves no favors by building in an old house the way that they have, and indeed my only dissatisfaction comes from how hugely inefficient a system they’ve developed. With such a popular restaurant drawing so many people into such a small space, there has to be a better way than putting names in for a table and then having your party go through a very slow cafeteria-style line to place orders and ring the table up all together. The result is confusion, lots of standing around and lots of blocked doorways. Having said that, the various servers seemed very much atop the chaos and were both very graciously accommodating for our group arriving in fits and starts throughout the hour and promptly reactive to additional orders being added to our table.

Yet I can’t help but think that if the service was that good with a flawed and inefficient system, the service would become floating-on-air perfect with a more sensible one. I am very tempted to return one weekday evening and try one of these highly-praised mac-n-cheese bowls which are only available at supper, and see how the service is during a slightly less busy time than Saturday at 12:30. I’ll certainly have some more fried pickles, too.