Located along a grey stretch of Atlanta's culinary real estate, Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand (489 Moreland Ave., 404-474-9651, www.thesausagestand.com) is small, but packs a sensory punch. There's a bright, well-conceived design; kitschy names for even kitschier menu items; deep-orange wallpaper emblazoned with pop art-esque logos; and a metro rack of merchandise. At first glance, it seems owners Molly Gunn of the Porter Beer Bar and Delia Champion of the Flying Biscuit Café have thought of everything.
Looks can be deceiving.
Champion and Gunn should be hailed for using Springer Mountain Farms chicken (an excellent antibiotic-free and humanely raised bird that's fed a vegetable diet) to make their small-batch sausages. But the recipe — which the website says Champion "perfected over 15 years" — could still use work. No matter how you order your sausage, or how many toppings you pile on, the intense dried herbs overwhelm the juicy flavor of the meat.
The menu is broken down into slingers (a jumbo link sausage), breakfast anytime, sliders, and sides and drinks. Simpler is better. Hoagie rolls sourced from H&F Bread Co. are pillowy soft and provide supreme squishability, but they fall apart if you choose something that's heavier on the toppings. One of my younger dining companions remarked on the problem while eating the Gunn Slinger (a sausage loaded with guacamole, salsa and fresh jalepeños), asking, "How am I supposed to eat this?" and then breaking into the mantra, "Difficult, difficult, difficult!"
The best slinger, the Grinder, offers three fat chicken sausage meatballs drizzled with bright marinara and draped with melting mozzarella. The regular sliders also win: Three mini buns cradle thin sausage patties glazed with a bit of Delia's special barbecue sauce, which contains grape jelly. If you're nursing a hangover and craving something naughty, you can get the Double D Delight sliders, which are similar to the regular sliders, but made with small Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of buns. Skip the added sour cherry cream cheese. It's pure nast.
Wedgies (thick-cut wedge french fries) are coated in something resembling what coats the fries at Checkers Drive-in, and the optional Wild Heaven cheese sauce tastes like grainy beer and cheese soup. "Cake shakes" are actually your choice of cupcake — chocolate chip or red velvet — puréed into a regular milk shake. The frozen lemonade has a nice amount of sourness, but it is sickly sweet. Not as sweet, however, as the frozen sweet tea, which when combined with the frozen lemonade to create the Swirlie had everyone at the table slamming it down, squinting their eyes and pursing their lips.
Breakfast is the one area of the menu where Delia's really shines. Burrito fiends will love South of the Border, a standard link sausage wrapped in a sun-dried tortilla with scrambled eggs, gooey cheddar cheese, chili, and sautéed onions and peppers. Just as good is the Mother Clucker — chicken sausage patties, scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese on a hoagie roll. It's easy to eat, and the creamy eggs mellow the spices in the sausage. And that makes all the difference.