Comfort food is a whole other category of food that has its own rules and expectations. Comfort food is all about the family feel, the service, a low price and “hitting the spot” of a craving or getting a fix of home style cooking without the dishes. Johnny V’s has been around for forever, but just blipped onto my radar in the past couple of days, and now I wonder how I could have possibly missed this place for so long.
I will invert this article and talk first about the dessert because I am not ashamed to admit that is how I ate my lunch. Banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts when made the way I make it, which is the way I remember it as a child; although it can be disappointing when served plain as banana “flavored” pudding. Johnny V’s’ version is exactly the bowl of delight I remembered growing up with “Nilla” wafers and over-ripened bananas that get lost and incorporated into the pudding nearly dissolve to become part of the whole. As I slowly scraped a little off the top, closed my eyes and took a bite, I recalled all the celebrations, picnics and parties of my childhood where this dish was the centerpiece no one could wait for. After a time, I felt lost in the 1980’s, and only the flat screen TV displaying noon-time weather betrayed the current year.
Then, I moved onto my entrée. I was seriously tempted by the gravy burger, because what comfort food lover doesn’t want to try a favorite covered in gravy at least once. However, I hadn’t had a BLT in a while, so I ordered that with the fries. The BLT was exactly how you would make it at home, with crisp toast, crispy bacon, ice burg lettuce, and mayo. Sometimes at home, I would add an egg and call it a BELT, and I bet the friendly folks there would take you up on it if you asked. The fries were standard dinner crinkle cut, which I always eat with a mixture of ketchup and hot sauce. In fact, I have been eating them that way for over 35 years, and it was likely at a family diner like Johnny V’s where I picked up the habit. Overall, the meal was delicious and filled a craving, as a BLT is not on many menus. The food may disappoint a food snob, but it is everything you want from a home style restaurant, and the price was next to nothing.
Any dining experience is made better with a friendly staff, and on this Johnny V’s may be top of the line in that regard. From the moment I walked in as a first timer, I was greeted with nothing but smiles and prompt service as well as responses from my questions. In short, I left stuffed, relaxed and happy. Come around lunch time any weekday, and you will see lots of people with the same thought as the drive-thru was out to the street and the inside did a brisk business. I have lived in Macon for twelve and a half years and regret that I have never run across the place, but it is well known to Macon old-timers, even if they do not know the 5854 Columbus Rd. location is still open.
They are open lunch and breakfast from 5 AM to 5 PM every day except Sunday, with breakfast served until noon. The breakfast menu includes anything you can imagine, and I have heard from regulars, they will improvise for you if you ask. In short, places like this restaurant are the reason I started writing about local things of interest. Ironically, I discovered them while visiting the printer I am going to use to bring that newspaper back. This coincidence only strengthens my resolve to highlight the good things of Middle Georgia.
In a world where McDonald’s and Waffle House have imitated the local family diner experience and corporatized it, places like Johnny V’s have disappeared. It is my hope that shining a light on these little oases of local character we can keep some of the charms of Macon alive longer.