The Peach and the Frog
By: Dick Hodgetts; Columnist
Rutledge is full of surprises. Go to the four-way stop, which is designated with a sign stuck in a salvaged oil barrel, and move along West Main Street. The neighborhood defies classification. You will find a well maintained brick home which is the residence of Father Peter Dora, Priest at St. James Catholic Church, and a lovely updated house owned by Larry Medford who has nearly done a one man urban renewal program among the houses of Rutledge, and at 179 West Main Street if you pause with your window down, one is likely to enjoy the smells of some great cooking. You have arrived at the Rutledge Inn - home of Pierre & Dina Glardon – the Frog and the Peach. What an unexpected discovery in such a laid-back, relaxing place. Our journey does not match that of the owners: Pierre & Dina.
Pierre began his sojourn to Rutledge in Paris, France. His parents unexpectedly apprenticed him at age 14 to a hotel in Fouqet, France to learn French food preparation. A few years later, the French Army conscripted him into service and he finds himself on the Caribbean island of Martinque; which in one of those strange geographic situations is actually considered to be part of France.
Island visitors who experienced his French cuisine invite him to join them in Montreal Canada; where at the age of 20 he finds himself to be a French Chef, now with six years experience. The Montreal Exposition is underway and thousands of young people have migrated to this great international city to serve the tourists arriving by the thousands. A well-earned reputation again leads him to The Twenty One Club (Continental Cuisine) in New York City where he meets the famous and near-famous who visit this world renowned night club.
After some years in Boca Raton, he is recruited by the Rosebud Group to join their staff in Chicago (Italian food). If you are not into the culinary scene, the Rosebud Group operates several popular Chicago restaurants in a City known for its diversity and excellence in food. Pierre is in the major leagues of Continental food.
Here the tall, debonair Frenchman meets a peach of a girl. Dina’s journey is just as unlikely. The daughter of a USAF Colonel has lived in Washington DC, Germany, Turkey, Waco Texas, Alabama, and somehow calls Atlanta her home.
What Georgia girl would not be swept off her feet when a tall single Frenchman focuses on her after meeting on a blind date? One can only conclude this is “predestined” as this Presbyterian lass soon marries her French Chef.
The family moves to Denver so that Pierre can perform his art at the Brown Palace (American Food). Another move to Chicago where a son is born and more professional learning experiences such as the Nikko Hotel (Japanese Cuisine). Stops also include Nicolai’s Roof in Atlanta (Russian food).
The years pass and the kids move on and the Frog and the Peach visit Morgan County. The travels stop-as it does for so many of us. Pierre helps open the O’Hara Restaurant while he and Dina establish their Rutledge Inn. This bed and breakfast had been restored by their neighbor Larry Medford. It operates in ways that are a bit peculiar: it is their home; yet guests make room reservations for a pleasant stay and they may experience Pierre’s cooking only if reservations have been made. The food is excellent as you might expect; and Pierre puts on a show during its preparation. He may not be aware of his non-stop talking with a French accent; but to guests it is quite an unexpected delight.
If you, or guests you direct to The Rutledge Inn make dinner plans, all the food is prepared from fresh items bought at the Dekalb Farmers Market, or Pierre uses vegetables grown locally. Dina’s involvement in the local Garden Club is apparent to anyone visiting their yard. Most guests become repeat visitors as The Rutledge like other spots in Morgan County is a relaxing and unexpectedly quiet destination from the hectic life style so many people endure in Atlanta-which my Pastor refers to as “the beast to the west.”
When you have guests and want to give them a gift of a few days of great food and quiet charm; direct them to The Rutledge Inn and suggest they meet The Peach and The Frog. And, when you pull up to the front, roll down your windows and take in the aroma of French, or Russian, or Italian, or American, or Japanese cuisine.
Tell them to expect to be surprised; after all, it has been quite a journey for these two who have come from all over to reside and provide a sophisticated hospitality experience. But one does not run into a Peach and a Frog every day, and most unexpectedly in Rutledge.
Printed in the May 21, 2009 edition.