When I want a hearty breakfast after a big night out in Atlanta (or to soothe what needs soothing,) I head straight for Home Grown in Reynoldstown and to the Comfy Chicken Biscuit. And co-owner Kevin Clark tells me I’m not alone with this move. While it may seem like just an average plate of biscuits and sausage gravy topped with crispy fried chicken, it’s the ingredients in this dish and what Clark learned from one of his restaurant mentors that makes it absolutely worth seeking out again and again.
Clark got his start working in fine dining restaurants in Atlanta under chefs like Paul Albrecht of Pano’s and Paul’s fame. He eventually left that world behind to pursue opening a restaurant of his own, a much more laidback establishment where comfort rules the vibe and the menu. Home Grown is Clark’s ode to all things comfort. It’s a low-key neighborhood meat-and-three where anyone and everyone gathers for breakfast and lunch throughout the week. There’s even a quirky little art gallery on site selling paintings, t-shirts, and other pieces from local artists.
Clark attributes a lot of his success as a restaurant owner and chef to Albrecht. “I’m so fortunate to have met him and be able to do this because of him.”
But Clark says he never expected the Comfy Chicken Biscuit to take off like it did — or to gain such a huge following — when he first put it on the menu in 2011. In fact, it wasn’t on the menu during the first six months after Clark and partner Lisa Spooner opened Home Grown in 2010. Fast forward to the present day, and the “Big Comfy” (also known as “the Comfy”) is considered a food institution in the city. It’s a perennial on many a “best of” list in Atlanta, and beyond, and has a dedicated press page on Home Grown’s website.
The story behind the Comfy began one unremarkable Friday morning in 2011, Clark says, when he threw together what he thought was just your basic plate of biscuits and gravy with fried chicken he’d been playing with for the menu at the Southern diner. He served the dish to a few regulars and staff members as a taste test.
“They were instantly like, ‘why is that not on the menu?’ We put the dish on the next day, a Saturday,” Clark says. “It was all we sold. Every ticket. Every single ticket. It was a hit.”
The dish needed a name. Clark turned to his servers for help. One employee offered up the suggestion of “Comfy Biscuit”, because once you consume this plate of biscuits and gravy, you feel comfortingly satisfied and sleepy.
When asked what it is about his version of the breakfast dish that makes it such a standout, Clark humbly insists it simply comes down to using good ingredients.
“It is a seasoned flour I learned from chef Paul when I worked with him. It’s what he used with his signature lobster tail. That’s what I use on my fried chicken,” says Clark of what gives the Comfy that little something extra over other chicken and biscuits around town.
Crunchy boneless fried chicken breast sits atop a big fluffy Cathead biscuit split in two. It’s then draped in a cozy blanket of savory sausage gravy made using Riverview Farms pork sausage. He admits the biscuit recipe for the Comfy comes from the back of a bag of White Lily flour. (It’s also the recipe I use.) All he did was kick the ingredients up a notch, using what he learned all those years ago from Albrecht. A full Comfy sets you back about $12, with a half order coming in around $6. I highly suggest adding a fried egg on top, too, for an extra $3.
Near the entrance to the kitchen at Home Grown, there’s now an illuminated sign tallying each Comfy sold at the restaurant. If you order it, you can smash the button like a game show buzzer to add to the daily total.
“It blows my mind that I created a dish that has a life of its own. Being in business so long, I can’t tell you a signature dish from a restaurant beyond the Big Mac,” says Clark, who is amazed by all the love this seemingly modest plate of food continues to receive at Home Grown.
The dish is so identified with Home Grown now, some diners actually call the restaurant Comfy Biscuit or stop Clark on the street to heap praise on the plate, sometimes calling him “Comfy” rather than Kevin.
For Clark, it’s just another day in the life of the Comfy Biscuit in Atlanta.
Jennifer Zyman is an Atlanta restaurant critic and the senior commerce writer for Food & Wine magazine. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and raised in Atlanta, where she continues to live with her family. She is a graduate of Emory University and California Culinary Academy. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Atlanta magazine, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Creative Loafing, Eater Atlanta, The Kitchn, National Geographic, Serious Eats, Southern Living, and Thrillist.