80 years after the iconic movie, imagine having dinner with Scarlett & Rhett
If you know your Gone with the Wind, you'll know that Aunt Pittypat was the aunt Scarlett O'Hara stayed with in Atlanta. And the restaurant named after her fully commits to this theme; at Pittypat’s you'll find life-size cut-outs of Scarlett and Rhett, wooden rocking chairs on the verandah and generous helpings of authentic Southern food. So when my friend Steve visited from the UK, I knew this was just the place for him to sample a taste of Atlanta’s most famous cultural legacy.
Pittypat's Porch main dining room
We’d started the day by re-watching the epic movie starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Based on Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this 1939 film is still the biggest blockbuster of all time. The movie won ten Oscars and has grossed almost $4 billion, securing Gone with the Wind first place in cinema history. After the movie, we wandered downtown to take a tour of Margaret Mitchell’s home, which is now a museum.
at the desk of Margaret Mitchell
Having spent a whole day swotting up on all things GWTW, we felt we’d earned our dinner, and it was time to follow in Scarlett’s footsteps and head “over yonder” (as they say in these parts) to Aunt Pittypat’s. Pittypat’s Porch first opened its doors in 1967, but once inside, it feels like stepping even further back in time to the Old South, almost like visiting a grand antebellum home. In true Southern style, we received a very warm welcome, and were pleasantly surprised to meet a fellow Brit - Garry, originally from Peterborough, now lives in Atlanta and is bar manager at Pittypat’s. After introducing us to “Scarlett” and “Rhett”, Garry led us down the wooden staircase to our table in the main dining room.
While we browsed the menu, aptly presented in the shape of a fan, Garry offered to mix me a cocktail. It was hard to choose between a Mint Julep (of course), Moonshine Punch or an Ankle Breaker (General Jackson broke his after half a dozen of these, apparently), but I was soon sipping Scarlett’s Peach Lemonade - a delightful combination of rum, vodka, tequila and gin, presumably inspired by Ms. O’Hara’s “spirited” personality.
Our server then presented an assortment of warm, homemade muffins, cornbread and biscuits with creamy butter. From black-eyed peas to collard greens, the food here is as Southern as it gets.
Aunt Pittypat’s Southern sideboard is included with every main course. We were invited to help ourselves to delicacies such as pickled okra, Hoppin’ John (peas, pork & rice) and Pittypat’s chicken salad, which, Garry told me, is famous far beyond Atlanta. For the main course, Steve chose Georgia Catfish, nicely blackened (aka “seasoned and smoked” to us Brits), which he said was delicious.
And me? Well seriously, what else could I order but fried chicken? This is the Deep South, after all.
Garry recommended Bourbon Street bread pudding with custard for dessert, adding that the chef drizzles it with a generous splash of Jim Beam. I do declare, there’s no scrimpin' on the liquor at Pittypat’s.
The restaurant decor features movie posters, a portrait of Scarlett, and old photos of Clark Gable, Margaret Mitchell and Olivia de Havilland at the GWTW Atlanta premiere. One wall displays original sketches used during the production of the movie.
Pittypat’s has become an Atlanta institution, and it’s easy to see why. Everyone we met, from our greeter at the door to Garry, our server Alexis, and Beau (who's worked at the restaurant for 23 years) was incredibly friendly. The staff and service epitomize Southern charm and hospitality, so that just like Scarlett visiting her aunt, you’ll feel right at home. At Pittypat’s Porch, frankly, they do give a damn. In fact, I strongly suspect that gracious hostess Aunt Pittypat herself would mightily approve.