Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weidmann's - Meridian

Just the other day, I received a notification that a comment had been posted to my last blog entry. Guessing that I had either been stripped of gainful employment or resigned myself to a diet, Mr. Anonymous wished me well. This isn’t the first time the inactivity of my blog has been questioned, but it did make me realize that it’s been an obscenely long time since my last post.  Does this mean the end of this little hobby of mine? Although five years is an exceedingly long life span for a food blog, I sincerely doubt that I’ll call it quits anytime soon. I can’t promise that I’ll return to the 200 posts in a year halcyon days of 2009,  but blog posts will be forthcoming starting with a little detour to Weidmann’s in Meridian.

This story, like so many others, begins with a trip on I-20 East towards Atlanta. However, instead of the usual mulling over Tuscaloosa or Birmingham spots, an extra bit of last minute work at the office left me hitting the city limits of Meridian a few minutes after one and just in time for lunch. Rarely stopping for anything more than a bit of gas and a pit stop, I decided that this time was a good as any to stop into Weidmann’s.

“I wish it was crunchy”, that was the first thought that entered my mind when I looked at the rather charming if a bit kitsch crock of peanut butter at the center of my table at Weidmann’s.
Handmade by a local artist and bearing all of Weidmann’s relevant details, the crock contained a plastic cup of smooth and slightly salty peanut butter.

A tradition that began with a butter shortage during the Second World War has become a Weidmann’s trademark and even with the lack of crunch, it’s a tradition I can support.

After starting with the peanut butter, it was on to another Weidmann’s tradition, the fried green tomatoes.
Despite looking a bit oily, these tomatoes were nicely breaded and were about as crispy as fried green tomatoes could be.
With a firm texture, these March tomatoes weren’t too tart, just enough to keep things interesting.
The comeback dressing was a different story; sweet and creamy as expected, this condiment was crying out for a touch chili powder or black pepper to combat the sweetness. When combined with the tomatoes, I quickly realized that the unripe tomatoes had no need for the comeback; they were sweet enough on their own.

Hoping to get a taste for the Weidmann’s menu, I also ordered a cup of their house seafood, chicken, and sausage gumbo. Unfortunately, the gumbo arrived at the same time as the tomatoes. Aside from being an annoyance, the time the gumbo spent lingering may help explain its thickness.
True to its name, there were chunks of sausage, nicely briny shrimp, large pieces of okra, but, strangely, very little chicken.
Also absent was much of a roux flavor.  Tasting more of an okra stew than the Louisiana gumbos I’ve come to know and love, this gumbo, while full of ingredients, was decent but lacking any real depth.

Before I had a chance to finish my gumbo, my catfish entrĂ©e arrived at my table. Pushing aside the bowl, I was curious to see Weidmann’s version of crabmeat Belvedere.
Served with a side of butter beans and creole cabbage, this plate had a homey quality that may not win awards for aesthetics, but it certainly looked like a filling lunch.
Starting with sides, the butter beans were big, creamy, and incredibly pale. Oddly colored they may have been, they would be a fine addition to any meat and three.
The creole cabbage is something that needs to be on more menus. Tomato braised and with a definite chili pepper tail, their magic really came through when combined with the butter beans. Just those two made me wish I had ordered a vegetable plate.

That’s enough gushing over vegetables; the point of the plate was the catfish and its crabmeat Belvedere.

Crispy on the edges, juicy, and delightfully flakey, this was a well-grilled filet of Mississippi catfish.

Regarding the toppings, it seemed the addition of both a light cream gravy and crabmeat Belvedere was too much for even this sturdy piece of catfish to handle.

Visiting a restaurant with as much as history as Weidmann’s arms me with a certain amount of hesitation. Will a place that claims to be Mississippi’s oldest restaurant still exist because of pure nostalgia from an aging clientele? Is the kitchen running on a reputation earned decades prior and has since been stripped of any meaning? I can say that Weidmann’s did not reinforce my suspicions even though things were a bit of a mixed bag. The timing issues I can somewhat attribute to the busy lunch hour although that’s a piss poor excuse. While the gumbo and comeback left me wanting, there were some things that set a hook that made me want to come back namely the well grilled fish and the superb vegetables. With an exceptionally large lunch menu that warrants further exploring, there may be an order of Weidmann’s shrimp and grits in my future travels or at the very least some peanut butter and crackers.

Weidmann’s Address & Information

210 22nd Ave Meridian, MS 39301 // 601.581.5770 // Weidmann’sWebsite // Weidmann’s Menu // Weidmann’s Reservations
Weidmann's on Urbanspoon