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)
There’s no mention of who bestowed this award upon the Walnut Hills restaurant, but whoever they were, they are sadly mistaken.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It may be on the smallish side but this cornbread skillfully treads the fine line between not too sweet and not too salty.
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.
An interesting idea but it did lead to a sizable amount of the chicken & dumplings spilling out of the small bowl.
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.
Butter beans or lima beans, regardless of name, these beans had a light porky taste but a miserable overcooked texture.
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