In the dead of winter, going out to eat is only about two things: perking yourself up with a festive night on the town or wallowing in seasonal affect by letting some kindly waiter take care of you. Sometimes you get all dressed up to really party, and then realize your true despair only when you slide into the booth. Other time you walk in the door moping and are pleasantly surprised by what a good time you end up having. I believe any restaurant should be able to cater to both types of diners in winter, but they seldom do. That’s why Atlanta needs Lloyd’s.
Lloyd’s is both a family friendly supper joint and a place you can get wasted ‘til the wee hours. The service will be good in either case, so you’re free to choose your own adventure. Want to party? Go in the front door and turn left to the bar. Or push that stroller to the dining room on the right. Everybody gets to hear the same classically cheesy Western oldies tunes—songs nobody would ever request that are nonetheless palatable to most people, songs that are upbeat in a mellow, unobtrusive kind of way. We headed to the dining room side.
Like the music, the service is also not insistent. We hemmed and hawed over a couple different appetizers. The server’s advice? “Have what you want to have. You want to have them all?” In her eyes was the genuine air of everyone’s favorite nonjudgmental cousin, the one you sneak into the garage to share a cigarette with during a mandatory family holiday get-together. She’s not counting your calories. She doesn’t care if you eat dessert first. If your kid is kind of running amok and being too loud, she assumes you’re doing the best you can. She thinks all beers are created equal and maybe doesn’t know how to make a Manhattan—but she does know how to pour one out of a shaker table side, which she will then leave at the table, where it will stay iced until you feel like pouring the second half yourself. And it’s only five bucks during weekday happy hour.
We settled on two of the four apps, the fried mozzarella and the spinach dip. The mozz and marinara was golden and delicious. A peeve of mine is how most fried stick foods tend to spit some grease when you first bite in, but these are fan shaped and perfectly browned, no burn hazards when you bite. The big winner of the night was that spinach dip though. It’s a thing straight out of every Midwestern kid’s most idyllic memories: spinach and cheese made even creamier by the sour cream and onion mix, and dipping with Ruffles potato chips for maximum traction on premium saltiness. I think most of us first began to like spinach thanks to this richly constructed treat that is almost dinner all by itself, and it will cheer you up no matter how blue you get this winter. How is this dip only nine bucks?!
I then ordered a cheeseburger and fries because if a low key lounge doesn’t have that, it doesn’t have anything. The two-patty burger arrived proudly standing tall with a knife sticking out of the top to keep it all from sliding. It tasted great and normal, neither simply slapped together nor trying to hard to be special. The fries were covered in a fine red dust of smoky seasoning that could stand up to the flavorful burger. My wife ordered the meatloaf and all-you-can-eat mashed potatoes. Meatloaf was classic: moist inside, slightly crusty edges, moderate amount of unfussy ketchup. And how does one know if one wants more of these infinite mashed potatoes, with just enough tiny lumps to assure you that they are no box flake experiment? “Just say yes,” said our server.
We also said yes to key lime pie, which was basic and then piled high with cream. Everything about Lloyd’s is wonderfully regular, from the Budweiser to the fried bologna sandwich. Go in sweatpants if you feel like it. If you end up wanting to prolong the experience by heading over to the bar side, nobody there will care about your outfit either. Their slogan is “Lloyd’s: where nobody knows your name.”
Lloyd’s Restaurant & Lounge is located at 900 DeKalb Ave. For more information, visit lloydsatl.com.