Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Best Food in the Middle of Nowhere

If you are ever driving to Belton, or at least towards it, you will come upon a giant chicken situated at a crossroads in the middle of no place at all.

Just behind that chicken, there will be a white building with a red roof.

 If you see that white building, you need to stop.

Stop right that second and go in. Assuming, of course, the white building is open at the time. If it's not, then you need to go to wherever it is you're headed, then turn around and come right back the next morning when it is.

This building is Grits and Groceries. I've heard of it before, as it's been written about as some kind of paradisaical wonderland by Garden & Gun, so when my coworker and I happened by it on the route we had to take back from our work conference, we knew we had to stop.

 And you need to know that you will need to stop, too.

They have a base menu, but also a specials menu that changes depending on the day of the week. We decided to stick to the specials menu.

My coworker had shrimp and grits, served with a ham gravy. He seemed to lose all capacity for human speech while eating it, but as he was very nearly licking his plate clean at the end, I'm assuming it was good. Very good indeed. The only actual words I was able to coax out of him were something about 'best shrimp [he'd] ever eaten'. And... something else about the gravy, but that was mostly incoherent.

I had this -

and this.

 Stuffed artichokes and a grits cake with tomato gravy, respectively. The stuffed artichokes were cheesy and gooey and wonderful. They came in a tiny ramekin, which is perfect because I don't think I could have eaten any more than the delightful little serving I had. The grits cake was the best part, actually; creamy regular-grits texture on the inside, with a crispy crunchy fried outside. The tomato gravy was the best kind of tomato soup, and just paired really well with it. I was sopping up the last vestiges of tomato from my plate when the waitress (friendly, personable, and really good at talking us into things) asked if we had given any thought to dessert.

No. No, we had not. And when we waffled, she said, "Surely you've left y'all some room! Joe makes all the desserts himself!"

I fall hard for a well-placed "y'all". As a transplanted Midwestern Yankee, it gets me every time.

Here's the thing about Grits and Groceries; the owners, Elizabeth and Joe Trull, are a pair of trained chefs, who decided to head back to the region they knew best when they started their family. Joe was a head pastry chef at one of Emeril Lagasse's restaurants in New Orleans for quite some time. The man knows his sugar.

 When we waffled some more, she described what was on offer; a blackberry crisp, with a dollop of chocolate-flecked whipped cream on top. My coworker had that. I was offered a different dessert, if I wanted it; a ginger-lemon cake.

Did I want that?

Is that even really a question?

Look at it.

Bask in its glory.

Joe brought it out himself; maybe just so I could get a good look at the person who first turned dessert into a religious experience for me.

I asked for a little whipped cream on the side, because I am a sucker for it. It was vanilla bean-y as all get out. The cake was great; just a hint of ginger spice, a strong lemon taste, lots of mellow spice-cake flavor.

Just wanted to make sure you got another look at that thing of beauty.

We will definitely go back; although this time I mean 'Jason and I' by 'we'. Because Jason needs to eat here, so he can understand why all other food will forever pale in comparison now for me.

They focus on breakfast and lunch, so plan accordingly.

The prices are incredibly reasonable (remember to bring cash or a check, though; no plastic!), literally everyone working there said hi to us at some point, and somebody's super happy German Shepherd even hung out outside the door. The place was pretty busy while we were there, but there was never a feeling of being 'rushed'. There's a small amount of seating inside, with more outside. This allows the place to be pretty dog-friendly, since the outside seating is covered and you can bring your dog out with you.

They also have grits, jams, and some other things for sale, but we were in a bit of hurry to get home after our conference ended, so we didn't have much time to really look around.

Seriously, though; go to a crossroads, and look for a giant chicken. I promise it's not the devil trying to buy your soul, although if he did this'd be the place to do it.

He'd just have to offer to buy your lunch here. You'd find yourself signing the dotted line with a forkful of shrimp in your other hand.


  1. little run down mom and pop places are the best. and that ginger cake? it looks amazing!

  2. Love love love this post. I also love your writing style, you had me laughing out loud a couple times during this post. And also drooling over my keyboard for some of those stuffed artichokes. Yummmm. I've never been to Belton, but now I think I need to make a special trip out there just for the food and the giant chicken.

  3. Deanna: I LOVE when I come across some restaurant in the middle of nowhere. I've had the best luck finding great food. Also that ginger cake WAS amazing. I have been craving cake in a serious way ever since.

    Queenofthefoodage: Ha, thanks for the compliments! I would definitely think it's worth the trip, if you live ANYWHERE remotely nearby. If you don't, take a long weekend and fly into Greenville, rent a car, and take the drive. It's totally worth it; and Greenville has some incredible food culture!


Comments make the world go round - please leave your thoughts and I'll make it my goal to answer!