Such words never rang so true.
Feeling like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade, I’ve stumbled upon the holy grail of chicken. Mr. Davis makes the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. I am equally hesitant and eager to share my discovery, but share I must.
A rare opportunity arose last weekend, we had a free Saturday without any previously scheduled engagements. The stars aligned, the sun was shining, and with our camping gear tossed in the El Camino we cruised down the Natchez Trace towards the Homochitto National Forest.
We hadn’t been camping since our anniversary trip in October. It had been too long. We soaked up the fresh air and peaceful stillness of the woods. Ben biked, I hiked, and we built a fire to cook stew. S’mores were involved. I didn’t think our spontaneous getaway couldn’t get any better.
I was wrong.
Deviating from our regular route, we chose to drive the Natchez Trace parkway instead of I-55. Lined with trees and green pastures it’s much more pleasant and nearly absent of all traffic. When taking the interstate we usually stop in Brookhaven at Broma’s Deli (like McAlister’s Deli, but local and better) to eat on our way home. Being on a different path we needed to find a new lunch spot.
I recalled a friend who had gushed about having the best cobbler of her life at Country Store (close) in Port Gibson (not quite). This tip led to a quick search on my phone which popped up the Old Country Store on Urbanspoon, along with a review by the Cynical Cook. In the review he mentions that Alton Brown, of the Foodnetwork, stopped there while filming a Feasting on Asphalt episode and proclaimed, ““This is the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life.”
Mr. D’s had three ringing endorsements before we pulled into the gravel parking lot.
Located off of highway 61 on the outskirts of Lorman, Mississippi you can’t miss a large rickety aging building. It inconspicuously sits on the side of the road. Mr. D’s used to be an old general store and it still looks like an old general store.
The restaurant consists of a large dining room decorated with nick-knacks along the perimeter and a smaller adjacent room with the buffet. You are instructed to select a table, help yourself to the buffet and someone will take your drink order.
The buffet consists of a tiny salad bar, watermelon slices, marinated cucumbers and tomatoes, potato salad, sweet potatoes, green beans, field peas (?), turnip greens, dirty rice, macaroni and cheese, smothered chicken, fried chicken and cornbread. The cooks would occasionally bring out more trays, so there might be more dishes.
I heaped my plate to the brim and ate every crumb. The greens were excellent, the green beans looked canned and the macaroni needed more cheese. The corn bread was dense so I crumbled mine to soak up the vegetable juices, yum. Nevertheless I am willing to overlook the varying quality of the side dishes because the fried chicken is so damn good.
A brief history of the restaurant and Mr. Davis’s background story is printed on laminate place mats. He says his chicken is superior due to a couple reasons including using fresh birds, special designated frying vats and regularly changing the vegetable oil.
Whatever he does works, because it really is the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. I prefer white meat which is notorious for being dry and tasteless, but this was far from that. A crispy, well seasoned crust encased tender, flavorful meat bursting with juices. I ate an entire breast piece and couldn’t stop picking at Ben’s plate. Between the two of us we ate a whole chicken. (Okay, maybe not that much.)
Remembering the comment about the cobbler, I saved room and ordered peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. It came heated and was scant on the fruit filling, but was good nonetheless. Next time I’ll try the blackberry.
And if this place couldn’t get any better, near the end of our meal Mr. Davis himself came out from the kitchen to say a few words, sing a song and shake hands with the patrons. Who wouldn’t love that.
The restaurant has limited hours, but it open seven days a week. The buffet is $9.95 which is fair considering the amount we ate, drinks and dessert are extra. It’s a small town gem, a bargain for a meal and a show.
Mr. D’s restaurant has more character than Mississippi has magnolia trees. I simultaneously wanted to keep this secret to myself and tell everyone I know about our meal. This is road food at it’s finest.
If you’re nearby do yourself a favor and stop. It just may be the best fried chicken of your life.
Sadly my camera battery died. I took video of the song with my phone but was too far away to pick up sound. I’ll be prepared next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time.
Mr. D’s Restaurant
in the Old Country Store
18801 Highway 61
Lorman, MS 39096