It’s week two, and I decided to take an urban turn on my blue plate tour and go to two Fondren favorites. Now, I know these are relatively new favorites in Jackson, but just because they’re new doesn’t mean they can’t be classics. Both of these restaurants have quickly become Jackson staples, and I wanted to find out if their blue plates could hold their own compared to the older (vintage, if you will) spots in town.
3009 North State Street
Blue Plate: Fried chicken breast with Parmesan cream sauce served with cheddar mac and cheese, fried okra and cornbread
I’ll just start by saying the chicken breast was crunchy, perfectly seasoned and the Parmesan sauce was lightly drizzled on the top. YUM! It was big and tender and the first to go, very quickly I might add. The mac and cheese was in a thick cheddar sauce almost like fondue, and if you like the flavor of cheddar you’ll love this dish. The sauce is heavy and rich and unlike any mac and cheese I’ve had in town before. If you want to expand your mac and cheese world, go give it a try. The fried okra wasn’t super crunchy but lightly fried and perfectly salted, a quality side dish. Finally, and most importantly, the cornbread – it was fluffy, moist and savory, and it met all of my expectations of what cornbread should be and more. All of these components are key to a Southern blue plate, and Barrelhouse did them so well. This meal was standard in certain ways but with touches of new flavors mixed in to add a fun flare.
Saltine Oyster Bar
622 Duling Avenue
Friday’s Blue Plate: Simmon’s catfish with sweet potatoes and goat cheese grits
Like I said before, just because Saltine is newer in town doesn’t mean they don’t have classic blue plates. I had a Southern favorite on Friday: catfish. It was lightly fried and broke apart so easily. It wasn’t too greasy, and it was simple and timeless. The goat cheese grits were...well...goat cheese grits. How could they not be delicious? I personally am a huge fan of goat cheese, and you can really taste that flavor coming through. It’s a great combo of subtle but distinct. Since I ate the fried catfish and grits, I decided it might be a good idea to get another side that was a little healthier: sweet potatoes. They were sweet, of course, made into the perfect soft texture and cooked with coffee. You might think that sounds odd, but step outside of your everyday flavor box and try something new! All those ingredients worked together so well, and Saltine certainly pushes the boundaries of classic Southern cuisine.