A Georgia Truck Stop Asks the Question: Haute Enough for You?

updated 08/17/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/17/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

You've been driving all day, pushing that big rig down the four-lane, hauling some of the stuff that makes America run, and suddenly, just a few miles outside of Cordele, Ga., you get a feeling. At first it's just a vague uneasiness. Then it grows from an unfocused longing to a desperate yearning, and you know what it is you want. Your soul—usually satisfied so easily by cheeseburgers and fries—is crying out for haute cuisine, for veau, for poulet, for cunning sauces and subtle seasonings. You are on the Cordon Bleu Highway; you have white wine fever, and your Michelins guide you to Mon Petit, the truck stop on 1-75 that's the toque of the town among truckers.

Truth be told, there aren't just trucks in the parking lot of Mon Petit; there's many a car and van ordinaire, too. And since owner Lamar Perlis is well aware that one man's meat is another man's poisson, he has kept his Country Pride Restaurant, where drivers who have no truck with fancy fixin's can chow down on more traditional fare.

On the side, though, in what used to be a storage area, Perlis has unleashed chef Dick Gerow. With the assistance of a souschef and a pastry chef, Gerow has cooked for 50 patrons a night for the past 15 months. In a room adorned with crystal chandeliers and original paintings, two waitresses serve such dishes as Noisettes d'Agneau Perigeaux ($14.95) and Filets of Beef Richard III ($16.95) on elegant, fresh flower-bedecked tables. Mon Petit's nontrucker patrons, most of whom come from surrounding Crisp County (although some make the 150-mile trip from Atlanta), share the rest rooms with the more casual-looking folks eating at Country Pride. "If you didn't need to go to the bathroom," says Mon Petit diner Margaret Reynolds of nearby Lake Blackshear, "you'd think you were in another world."

Gault-Millau, Gault-Millau, wherefore art thou?

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