Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Old Country Store - Lorman, MS

For anyone that’s paid attention to this pokey little website, they can tell that I have a great deal of respect for Alton Brown, especially his TV miniseries “Feasting on Asphalt”. In its second incarnation, Brown and his crew travelled from one end of the Mississippi River to the other on motorcycles. On his way from Natchez to Vicksburg, Brown stopped at a random country store on the side of the highway. Minutes later, Alton declared that “this is the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life.” With a claim like that, I figured the hour and half ride to Lorman would be more than worth it.

Pulling up to the country store, you see a lot of out of county plates.

And walking up the stairs, you can’t help but notice this claim.

Best fried chicken in the world is a hefty claim, but I’m willing to put my life on the line and eat some chicken.

Once inside, you can tell this building has some years to it. Reportedly 130 years old, it has a few knick knacks to remind customers what it used to be, but the main focus is in the middle of the restaurant.

There are two steamer buffet tables at the Country Store, the first one holding all the cold goods. I was disappointed to find all the watermelon conspicuously absent.

The second buffet table held all the important items. Chock full of greens, green beans, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, ribs, and boiled chicken, this was the epitome of a good country lunch.

You know the veggies are going to be good when there are pieces of meat and bones floating in the liquid. That’s a true sign that Mr. Davis knows his southern cooking.

What’s a country buffet without cornbread?

With my plate full, I returned to my table and took a good look at what I picked out for myself.

The green beans were very tasty and full of subtle meaty flavor. Mac and cheese at the Country Store was simple; nothing too exciting, just good food. The cornbread was interesting. Taking a bite, I noticed it was thick, extremely dense, and just a little salty.

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

I took the first bite of the chicken. A little salty with a medium thickness to the battered skin, none of that double battered nonsense they sell at KFC. It wasn’t too heavily seasoned; In fact, all I could really taste was the chicken. That might sound like a negative, but it was refreshing to be able to enjoy just the chicken and not the batter.

Still hungry for more, I started to loiter around the buffet line, and Mr. Davis was quick to notice my anticipation. He let me know that the chicken would be just a few minutes. 10 or so minutes later, I saw him take all of the chicken out of the fryer and get it ready for the buffet line.

Mr. Arthur Davis was nice enough to pose with his chicken, fresh from the fryer. I snagged a few pieces and made it back to the table. If the first pieces of chicken were good, these pieces, fresh from the fryer, were amazing, borderline ethereal. Now I can see why A.B. would call this the best chicken he’s ever had. With each bite, the flaky, crispy crust gave way to a moist and delicious meat with the just slightest trailing hint of saltiness.

Stuffed to the gills with fried chicken and other country fare, I had the entire drive back on the Natchez Trace to reflect on my meal at the Lorman Country Store. If I had been satisfied with the buffet chicken, I would have walked away wondering what Alton Brown was thinking. Thankfully, I was patient and hungry enough to wait for the fresh batch, and my God, did it make a world of difference. I still don’t know if I would call this the best fried chicken in the world, but Arthur Davis gets pretty damn close.

Old Country Store on Urbanspoon


B.J. said...

On a recent ride in that part of the country, we happen to also drop in to the Old Country Store for lunch. I can only echo the comments made here .... it was probably the best chicken I've eaten and that's saying something coming from an old country boy like me. It was a meal like I remember eating at my grandma's house fifty years ago.

Cynical Cook said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

My family and I ate there and I have to say that it is the best I have ever eaten. I don't think it's even close. Mr Davis makes chicken taste the way it should taste. Wonderful restaurant. I can't wait to go back.

Julie said...

Leaving Dallas today to check this one out. Thanks for the pictures and the actual town name, as I was just going to head to Jackson and figure it out. Can't wait. Agree that meat and bones floating in vegetables are a good sign.

Anonymous said...

I knew the family who started Cohn Brothers and the family who ran the place, the Briethaups, in later years, and it was Mr. Briethaup who started getting people to leave their business cards all over the walls. The chicken is, indeed, succulent, and I look forward to returning soon.