Thursday, February 16, 2012

Walnut Hills - Vicksburg

A mainstay of small, southern restaurants, one could say that the roundtable is a great equalizer. With a lazy susan typically at the center of the table, people of all social statuses, colors, and creeds can rub elbows and enjoy a meal of fine southern cuisine. Well, I suppose that’s the idea behind the tradition. I’ve never been one to clamor for the opportunity to dine at a roundtable, but there aren’t too many options in the small town of Vicksburg. Fortunately, the Walnut Hills restaurant offers both the round table and the more traditional dining option. Eschewing the roundtable and taking a seat in the back near the bar, I was curious to see what sort of restaurant had garnered the titles of Best Fried Chicken (Delta Magazine), Best Home Cooking (The Vicksburg Post), and Best Country Food (WAPT)

Enticing as cayenne laced fried chicken may have been, it would have to wait until after a bowl of Walnut Hills’ award winning and authentic French waterfront seafood gumbo epinette.
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There’s no mention of who bestowed this award upon the Walnut Hills restaurant, but whoever they were, they are sadly mistaken.
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With no depth to the roux, this gumbo was left with large pieces of okra and a smattering of small shrimp and in the end was little more than a large cup of rice and insipid, oily flavors.


Doing my best to forget the gumbo, my plate of fried chicken wasn’t far behind.
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Making sure to ask for dark meat, I was pleasantly surprised by the juiciness of the bird, but the actual taste left much to be desired.

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True to its description, this fried chicken from Miss Herdcine Williams carried a tail of cayenne pepper, but the accompanying puddles of grease and one dimensional flavor quickly lost their novelty.


Of course, there was more to this plate than three pieces of chicken. A small bowl of purple hulled peas was the first side dish.
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Happily, these peas avoided the all too common fate of chalky texture, but then again there’s not much else to say about these peas, a middle of the road side dish.

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The second side came in the form of extra smooth and creamy mashed potatoes. Armed with a slight tanginess, these potatoes were let down by the listless gravy.


Less than buoyed by the “award winning” chicken and gumbo, I was hesitant to revisit the Walnut Hills restaurant but a few months later the opportunity presented itself. Once again shunning the roundtable, it was time to see if my first time had been a fluke.


Missed the first time around, the cornbread at Walnut Hills deserves a mention.
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It may be on the smallish side but this cornbread skillfully treads the fine line between not too sweet and not too salty.


Sadly, the Vicksburg favorite, potato rounds, didn’t fare quite so well.
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Like a half shod version of TGI Friday’s potato skins, these potato slices were salty, limp, and greasy.
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There’s an option to add shrimp to these potato rounds. I’m not sure why you would want shrimp here, but it is an option.


Hoping to strike gold with the southern favorite of chicken and dumplings, I was surprised to find that my lunch plate was comprised of three small bowls.
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An interesting idea but it did lead to a sizable amount of the chicken & dumplings spilling out of the small bowl.

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As for the actual dish, it was a collection of large pieces of dry white meat, big doughy dumplings, and a thick broth with an oddly pronounced taste of celery.


If the star of the dish was a letdown, then the sides were a mixed bag.

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Butter beans or lima beans, regardless of name, these beans had a light porky taste but a miserable overcooked texture.

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On the other hand, it’s hard to speak ill of the niblet corn. Being small, sweet, and tender, it ticked all the right boxes.


Unfortunately, this scenario plays out far too often. I want to like The Walnut Hills Restaurant. Although I may not partake, the round table is a charming idea and a restaurant that serves fine southern cuisine from an antebellum mansion fits perfectly in historic Vicksburg. Sadly, the charm of the Walnut Hills restaurant cannot overcome what is mostly a selection of mediocre to poor dishes. I arrived at Walnut Hills looking for quality cuisine in old southern atmosphere and I left once again confused about how these places win awards. When it comes to dining in Vicksburg, I guess I’ll stick to hot tamales.

The Walnut Hills Restaurant Address & Information

1214 Adams St, Vicksburg, MS 39183 // 601.638.4910 // The Walnut Hills Restaurant Website // The Walnut Hills Restaurant Menu


Walnut Hills on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow...we eat there often and we like it. I like the chicken...it is cooked in canola oil which has zero trans fats...healthier than fat Mama's. I like the chicken, salad, and a glass of red wine...it tastes and feels right to me. Sorry you had a bad day at Walnut Hills.

Anonymous said...

Three of us ate there Saturday afternoon. We were all from different parts of the country having traveled to Vicksburg for a show. The place was referred by a couple local people. We all found it to be everything they said it was and more. Nothing but good things to say. Everything was great and if in the area I'll go out of my wat to eat there again. I'm not sure of your tastes but it seems to me that you just don't like home cooking.

Anonymous said...

I live just north of Vicksburg and have been to Walnut Hills multiple times - before Rusty's and Roca opened, there just weren't many options for sit down dining in Vicksburg.

We never found the food to be exceptional. I'm not sure if they've recently changed it, but in the past the round table was only available on weekdays. We always found it to be a place where the only locals were older couples and most of the customers were tourists from outside the South that aren't used to good Southern Cooking. It's mediocre at best.

We won't return after receiving a rotten steak one night. I'm not sure if they still have steak on their menu, but several years ago they did. It was rancid.

Sadly, I agree with you. This is a tourist trap.