Hard to Find!
We almost gave up finding this place on East County Road in Cross Creek, Florida. The old restaurant and bar have been serving up "lunch and supper" since 1952, just down the road from the home of author, Marjorie K. Rawlings. The cozy building with its metal awnings and screened porch fit perfectly in the setting of monster trees and swaying moss...with a stormy sky brewing!
The inside was even cozier, with plenty of antiques and book related memorabilia tucked into numerous rooms. Seeing this picture on the wall brought me back to the first time I watched The Yearling on TV when I was about 10. I remember scenes of the boy romping in his bare feet with "Flag" through the jungle of palms and oaks and Spanish moss. I remember this sad scene in the movie... worse than Bambi.
Old Florida Cooking
Sadly, the restaurant is no longer allowed to serve cooter (soft shell turtle) but there were a number of alligator options. However, our server recommended the stuffed grouper. She was kind enough to encourage us to share the meal so we'd have room for dessert! First she brought the salad in 2 bowls which was a meal in itself with nuts and cheese. The grouper with homemade hushpuppies and creamy tartar sauce was delicious. The sour orange pie was rich and tangy. Think key lime pie meets creamsicle!
Don and I had the restaurant mostly to ourselves until a man in a white button down shirt, clutching a book sat in the booth next to ours. I had noticed him earlier when we had toured the Rawlings house down the road. For that reason I figured the book was not the bible and decided to ask him if he was an expert on Rawlings. He was indeed reading Rawlings' Cross Creek and we spoke for while about her books until he and Don got off on a discussion about road trips. I will always remember this soft spoken character and wonder what it would be like to travel alone...reading...chatting when strangers strike up a conversation.
Someone I Wish We'd Met
In the clutter of oddball stuff, I noticed a tiny space that could be considered a stage. An organ, a music stand, a tip jar and 3 old chairs. I had read somewhere that a man named Willie Green often stops by to perform a little blues guitar. He gets paid in tips. I was sorry we missed him. Next time.
One More Person to Remember
We met Harold while we finished our lunch. First we heard him chuckling to himself as he cleared a nearby table. He teased our waitress about a lousy tip. Then we heard him holler "Coming through!" in a playful way as he carried an armful of dirty dishes through a swinging door to the kitchen. He came over to our table a few times to chat. He just shook his head and laughed to hear we'd come all the way from Houston! Once he apologized for the clicking noise of his dentures. "The glue bothers my stomach." He explained. He offered to give us a tour of the nearby cabins that we could rent. He admitted prices were negotiable. I think business has been slow.
Hope to Come Back!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.