Grandmother's House was recommended to me by reader Justin about two years ago. The hubby and I have tried to find it before, but each trip ended with us lost, confused, and at another restaurant. So when I checked their website again and saw that they had added detailed directions, it bumped straight to the top of our list. Taking advantage of a blissfully unscheduled Saturday, we headed down for an early dinner.
Unlike our previous adventures, we managed to find the restaurant. (It also appears that their location has been corrected in google maps since our last trip). The spacious parking lot was our first hint that this was more than a small "hole in the wall" type spot. We were both happily surprised to walk in and find carpeted floors, pitch perfect decor, and appealingly mismatched china. At the sight of the chicken salt and pepper shakers, I found myself saying "This really does remind me of my grandma's house..."
The dining area spread through several rooms of the converted house, creating intimate dining enclaves. We were seated promptly and greeted by a friendly server and a basket of gorgeous hush puppies.
The size of small lemons, they sported a crunchy crust, a moist interior and a delicious sweet corn flavor. Mixed into the batter were bits of corn and small red bits that I assumed were red bell pepper. They completely redefined my notion of hush puppies and have set a ridiculously high bar for all others.
We rediscovered the menu when we finished the hush puppies and promptly put in an order for the fried pickle appetizer, because...fried pickles.
We hemmed and hawed over our entrees. Ribs or catfish or steak? Spicy blackened catfish or classic fried catfish? The daily special? (It involved sausage and vegetables over a bed of mashed potatoes...) We asked our server for recommendations, bartered between ourselves, and finally settled on a half rack of ribs for me and the fried catfish for the hubby. Each meal came with a salad, potato and rolls. I opted for the baked potato and my husband for the "creamed potato".
Nearly as soon as that was settled our fried pickles appeared.
Wrapped in a puffy batter, they were a dish of balanced opposites--soft, flexible dough and crunchy exteriors, tangy dill pickle rounds and creamy ranch. Despite my best intentions to save lots of room for my dinner, I happily inhaled my half of the dish.
At this point our "side" salads arrived and I began to grasp the enormity of what was to come.
(And yes, I did take two pictures of what is essentially the same dish. Because the different china patterns gives it such a different look. ; )
The salads themselves were fairly standard--iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, a ring of purple onion, a sprinkling of shredded carrots and grated cheese, and a few croutons. But the tomatoes were fresh grape tomatoes and the iceburg was crunchy. The onion was light and the croutons were wonderfully garlicky.
What really made my salad shine though was the raspberry vinaigrette dressing I had selected. Sporting actual pieces of raspberry it was deliciously fresh and brightened the entire salad.
As we ate, we chatted and soaked up the decor. I was charmed by the view out the window--all lush greenery and blooming flowers. The hubby picked up on the siding detail in the room we were in, giving the feel of an enclosed porch.
Our entrees arrived and we did our very best to do them justice.
My ribs were tender, meaty, and brushed with a bar-b-que sauce that hit all the right notes. A touch sweet, a bit tangy, thick enough to stick to the ribs (and my fingers and my face...) and all around delicious.
My baked potato was tender with a tasty, crinkly skin. Sourcream came with my plate and butter was on the table, but I was happy just to swirl it in the bar-b-que sauce.
The rolls (which came out later and I apparently neglected to get a photo of!) were square, soft, and just a hint doughy. Served brushed with butter they were a tasty addition to the meal.
My husband greatly enjoyed his meal (shown at the top of this post). The mashed potatoes were indeed creamy--smooth and rich. The catfish was melt-in-your-mouth tender and totally devoid of that tell-tale "fishy" taste it often has. Dreamy all around.
And then, because I am a glutton for punishment, when our server asked if we wanted dessert, I asked for a slice of caramel coconut pie and a box for the balance of my dinner.
As semi-spontaneous decisions go, it was an excellent one. The pie had a graham cracker crust. Now, normally, I do not like graham cracker crusts. They tend to be heavy, clunky things with the unfortunate association of one too many stale classroom snacks. So realize how momentous this is when I say that I liked this crust. The graham crackers were pulverized into a fine crumb with the flavor of brown sugar. The pie itself was a lovely intermingling of coconut, pecans, and just enough of a gooey filling to hold it together. Sprinkled with more pecans, drizzled with caramel, and served cold it was sweet, but not overwhelming.
We were seated within earshot of the checkout counter, so throughout our meal we could hear the cashier exchanging pleasantries with the other customers. But there was none of the standard "Hi. How are you? Here's your total. Have a good day." patter. Instead, regulars were greeted by name, families were inquired after, punny jokes were exchanged with a young patron and another was sent off with an upbeat "See you at church tomorrow!". Even the hubby and I, total strangers, were greeted warmly.
In fact, the kindness of the staff was so palpable that I noted it twice. This is a restaurant where you don't stay a stranger long. Nearly immediately the hubby and I had not only added it to our "come back here!" list, but it had bumped to the top of the "places to take out of town visitors" list. With outstanding food, welcoming service, a charming atmosphere, Grandmother's house is a great representation of our new hometown.
Total for the meal: $35.22 (Included one soft drink, one order fried pickles, one single fillet catfish entree, 1/4 rack rib entree, and one slice caramel coconut pie)
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