MADISON, GA. — MADISON, Ga.-- We're not exactly certain how Ye Olde Colonial Restaurant got its name; there is nothing obviously Colonial about this popular town cafe on the square in the Georgia town of Madison. It is located in a vintage bank building with a beautiful interior of wood-paneled walls and flocked red wallpaper, and its high arched windows provide a view of the street outside. Meals are casual and inexpensive, eaten in booths and at round tables in the center of the room, each of which is set with a large pitcher of presweetened iced tea so customers can help themselves.
There are no waitresses wearing Colonial uniforms. In fact, there are no waitresses. Food service at Ye Olde Colonial is by means of a small cafeteria line at the back of the room. Here is where you come to understand the old-fashioned implications of the cafe's name. The food served in this citadel of gastronomic excellence, while not strictly antique, is classic. Ye Olde Colonial Restaurant specializes in genuine Dixie cooking, just as it has done since current owner Jimmy Cunningham's parents started the business 36 years ago.
Every day at noon there is a choice of three meats available, including baked or fried chicken, fish filets and some kind of pork. Barbecue is our favorite -- great, luscious shreds of smoky-flavored pig, infused with peppery red sauce, heaped into a mound on the plate by the serving person, who then passes the plate along for corn bread sticks (crisp and steamy), and your choice from an array of vegetables and vegetable casseroles that would make any Southern cook proud. Feast upon buttery mashed yams, crisp fried okra, collard greens drenched in pungent pot likker, black-eyed peas or rutabagas. We found our holy grail as soon as we tucked into a great, quivering heap of custard-rich squash casserole.