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Clemons: Newton hosed on ‘Plates Locals Love’ list
Annual listing of special Georgia food skips Covington this year
Filet mignon béarnaise at Seven Gables Restaurant & Bar on Highway 20 Southeast in Conyers is one of the 100 Dishes Locals Love, 2018 edition, as chosen by the state tourism division.

The state’s list of 100 Plates Locals Love is an annual compilation of the must-try meals at Georgia restaurants.

It’s a way to boost tourism in our state, and unfortunately that tourism is going to pass Newton County in 2018. That’s because our restaurants were snubbed when the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division published the fourth installment of the list.

When people pick up the Georgia Eats guide at welcome centers or find it online, they won’t be directed to Mystic Grill or City Pharmacy or the Blue Willow Inn or any of our other restaurants.

To be fair, the sweet potato shrimp fritters at Mystic Grill in Covington and the peanut butter pie at Blue Willow in Social Circle — one of my absolute favorite desserts — made the list in 2015. Fried green tomatoes at the Blue Willow made it last year too.

But really, we got shut out this year?

I’m stunned.

I mean, I guess I can understand Georgia has 159 counties, and if there are only going to be 100 spots, some counties has to be left out each year. Now we find ourselves with, among others, Walton and Meriwether counties on the unremarkable dining list. (I’m sure y’all have some good places too, Greenville. Maybe we should form a Best of the Rest list.)

Highlighting the 100 Dishes list were 10 selections of Holly Chute, the executive chef of Georgia Grown. I’ve eaten at exactly one of the restaurants she honored, Harvest Moon Café in Rome. Even at that, I didn’t have the mean she raved about, the soul rolls. (Let me suggest instead the Wicked Pimina cheese dip or the Red-Headed Stranger burger.)

Other items in the top 10 were the braised lamb shank at Aria, the Cheshire pork tenderloin at Canoe and shrimp and lemon linguine at Saltyard, all in Atlanta; pappardelle at Colletta Italian Food & Wine in Alpharetta; blueberry cobbler with molasses ice cream at The Farmer & The Larder in Brunswick; quail Madeira at The Grey in Savannah; pecan crusted Bramlett Farms trout at Harvest on Main in Blue Ridge; duck gumbo at The Local Kitchen:Bar in Tifton; and fried chicken at Table & Main in Roswell.

You don’t have to travel too far if you want to try one of the top Georgia dishes.

Filet mignon béarnaise at Seven Gables Restaurant & Bar gives Conyers an entry. The Iron Fork steak sandwich at the Iron Fork Café in Eatonton also makes the list.

“There is no better way to immerse yourself in Georgia’s history and culture than through our unique food and dining offerings,” Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner for tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said.

“Whether you’re looking for local favorites or finding the best food festival for a weekend away, Georgia Eats is the perfect guide to delicious experiences you can’t find anywhere else.”

Well, maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad. Happy dining even if you’re not in Newton County.

David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is dclemons@covnews.com. Twitter: @scoopclemons.