Creative Loafing: Do you come from a restaurant family?
Herndon: I was raised in a commune in Cambridge, Mass. We shared cooking duties. I was baking at [age] 7, and by 10 I was cooking for a family of 26 - mostly kasha, fresh veggies, brown rice.
So did you use the Moosewood Cookbook?
Yeah, that was at our house. And books by Alice Waters. I was a flower child's child.
The Colonnade is known to attract the "gays and grays." Are they two different audiences to cook for?
Colonnade is classic Southern continental: prime rib, lamp chops, country ham and grits and black-eyed peas. It's a huge menu and covers a lot of older dishes. People have been eating here six, seven days a week for 20 years. When they hired me, I changed the restaurant. We've been cooking catfish, collards, the seafood platter for years - lots of people come for that. I've helped the techniques. I've changed some recipes, like the lamb shank, which is now braised with fresh sage and rosemary, garlic and red wine. They eat a lot of lamb shanks here.
And the gay folks, they like the specials?
The gay crowd comes in at 7:30 to 8 p.m. We never had pasta on the menu. I made fresh spinach walnut ravioli with a wild mushroom sauce. I make crab cakes with real crabmeat, served over cheddar grits with homemade cream corn. It was a hit.
Do you have a personal connection to the place?
It's bittersweet. My grandfather used to eat here for 20 years. He passed away before he got to eat my cooking. He used to tell me to get the recipes for corn muffins and yeast rolls.
Is there any group you'd like to attract?
The newer, younger crowd. We're not nearly as expensive as some places; you can get in and get out and not break the bank. Our specials are in the $13-$20 range and they include two veggies and a starch. If they thought we only had turkey and gravy, they will be pleasantly surprised.
The Colonnade, 1879 Cheshire Bridge Road. 404-874-5642.
This looks amazing. However, I see a bell pepper on the counter, and bell pepper…
Love pork belly.
Some food just doesn't photograph well, even if it is tasty.
Nothing wrong with grease on the walls if the burger is tasty.
That building and all of the ones next to it down to the Dunkin Doughnuts…