Shoo-Fly Diner is not your typical Double T. There are no club sandwiches, no over-easy eggs, no buttered white-bread toast. Instead, owners Spike and Amy Gjerde—they’re practically household names these days because of their other power places, including Woodberry Kitchen—follow their social consciences to serve made-from-scratch, farm-fresh, locally sustained comfort food in a cute setting with possibly the sweetest servers in town. And what’s not to like about a restaurant that has a playroom for the kids? It’s as family-friendly as your own house except that someone else cleans up.
But not everything works at the eatery. The food is very brown, a lot of it fried, but when it scores, you’re happy to be there. The fried-chicken supper, a signature dish, is an example. The crisp, succulent pieces are tucked into a cast-iron skillet and accompanied by a rich gravy on the side. We could have skipped the cornbread, though, with its dense, hockey-puck-like consistency.
We started with Arkansas truffles—don’t be afraid to ask what they are. Who would know they are fried-pickle slices? They were crunchy and yummy, especially dipped into a fish-pepper ranch dressing in a baby-doll-size Mason jar.
The hush doggies—deep-fried, savory-sausage oblongs—were flavorful, too, with honey-mustard sauce. Of course, you can always douse your food with Spike Gjerde’s signature snake-oil sauce (a fish-pepper condiment) if you really need to spice it up.
Sandwiches include an oyster po’boy, grilled cheddar, and a scrappledelphia with scrapple as a key ingredient. Large plates feature meatloaf, spaghetti Bolognese, and a terrific pan-roasted catfish with baked grits and assorted pickled veggies.
Kids get a nod with offerings like mac ’n’ cheese, griddled PB&J, a garden salad, and a chocolate-chip waffle.
Shoo-Fly’s namesake pie is so-so. We’d much rather indulge in the Mast Brothers chocolate pudding. It’s a bowl of velvety-smooth goodness with a creamy topping.
The restaurant may not have the “wow” factor of its Woodberry Kitchen sibling, but it suits a neighborhood need for a chummy place to gather with family and friends.
›› Shoo-Fly Diner, 510 E. Belvedere Ave., 410-464-9222. Hours: 4 p.m.-1 a.m. daily; breakfast, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun; snacks: $4-10; sandwiches: $7-16; large plates: $13-19; desserts: $4-10.