by Austin L. Ray
It arrives with an unassuming thud—sturdy porcelain against worn formica. But it feels like a paycheck, a kiss, a snow day, a promise of a new tomorrow. There’s an ocean of gravy that’s somehow never too much. Indeed, there’s enough of that gray-brown goo, chunky with sausage, that the menu descriptor “blanketed” starts to make very real sense. I would like to be covered by this blanket as well.
Underneath, there’s boneless fried chicken that tears like cotton candy when you so much as nudge it with a utensil. The biscuit of the Comfy Chicken Biscuit isn’t anything especially special, really. It’s nice, it does a good job of soaking up gravy and providing a textural contrast to the bird. But it’s otherwise just kinda there. And then there’s the orange slice on the side of the plate like some wisecracking sidekick. “You ever heard of vitamins?” it mocks. How rude.
While Homegrown’s Comfy Chicken Biscuit may not be the best breakfast item in Atlanta, or the healthiest breakfast item in Atlanta, or even the most popular breakfast item in Atlanta, it is, unequivocally, The Most Atlanta Breakfast Item In Atlanta. This is true because it’s a) unpretentious, b) relatively cheap, c) a respectful nod to the rich history of the South’s best and most indulgent, early-morning foodstuffs, and, best of all d) delicious. The Comfy is for everyone, and everyone is for the Comfy.
When Homegrown opened along a then-practically-vacant stretch of Memorial Drive in 2010, the Comfy Chicken Biscuit was a “quick and easy” staff meal. It wasn’t even on the menu! Chef/owner Kevin Clark added it about a year later, and that’s when the Comfy’s legend was born. “I thought the kitchen was going to walk out,” Clark told Atlanta Magazine in 2016. “Every single ticket had the Comfy on it. It was ridiculous.”
The Comfy Chicken Biscuit is the only breakfast food item in the world with its very own counter. The brightly colored box hangs on the wall near the cash register, keeping track of how many Comfies leave the Homegrown kitchen. At press time, the box read 3,240 COMFY CHICKEN PLATES SOLD, signifying that 3,240 Comfies had been sold, including, I suppose, the one I ate while finishing this essay.
At one point while writing, I spent the better part of a half hour staring at a photo of the Comfy Chicken Biscuit that I tweeted last fall. This may sound like a silly exercise, a writer’s block byproduct, but it was actually quite instructive. There’s something therapeutic about taking in the Comfy’s visage even when you’re not eating one. Indeed, right after eating one, like listening to a band on the way home from their concert. It reminds that maybe the world (or Atlanta, at least) isn’t such a terrible place after all. That sometimes, folks of all kinds—every age, race, and walk of life—can saunter into an old, charming shack on the Eastside, an establishment that’s encroached on all sides by development and gentrification, and those folks? Well, they can get Comfy together.