Nothing says Southern quite like the experience of going out to lunch with the “church crowd” on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone is dressed in their best and still on good behavior – at least for a little while. Families come together to share a meal, and friends wave and shake hands from across a crowded dining room.
One Sunday after church, I suggested to The Husband that we stop at Fannin Mart Restaurant in Flowood for lunch. I had eaten there once before and remembered them having some good old Southern comfort food.
We arrived shortly before 11 a.m. and the place was already beginning to fill up. The young lady at the hostess desk greeted us warmly and immediately seated us and handed us our menus. Before we even sat down, our waitress came by and asked if she could get a high chair for Little Tot – our two year old.
From what I heard from locals, the restaurant used to operate out of an old house before relocating to their current location. The décor is typical small-town country diner – wooden tables and chairs, checked oilcloth table coverings, antique farm memorabilia on the walls. The one unique feature I remember from my first visit was that the menu is hand written on a paper lunch sack. Their special includes a meat, three veggies, salad and bread. Their Fannin Fried Chicken is a mainstay on the menu, while some of their other specialties are rotated throughout the week. Today, they had country fried steak and baked ham in addition to the chicken.
Our waitress came back and took our drink orders and asked if we would like some warm rolls or a mixture of cornbread and rolls. We asked for a mix, and when she walked off I noticed she was wearing a boot on one leg. That didn’t seem to slow her down at all though, because a few minutes later she returned with two, quart-sized mason jars of ice water and a metal bucket full of warm bread. The yeast rolls were tasty and warm, but I was impressed by the cornbread. It was soft and fluffy, slightly sweet, and not dry at all.
I ordered some of their Fannin Fried Chicken and chose mashed potatoes, green beans, and speckled butter beans as my sides, with pineapple salad. Even though I recommended the chicken to The Husband, he decided to order the country fried steak with white gravy along with cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole and green beans.
The waitress brought out our pineapple salad. Well, I wouldn’t really have called it a salad. I was thinking it was going to be like warm pineapple chunks with cheese and Ritz crackers – similar to what I’ve had at other restaurants. Nope, it was just a slice of pineapple on a plate. Not exactly what I thought it would be. But that’s okay, because a few minutes later, out came our lunches.
Almost immediately, The Husband wished he had taken my advice on the chicken. Not because his chicken fried steak wasn’t good – he said it was very good. But once the waitress set down a basket in front of me with two golden brown pieces of crispy fried chicken, I could see him starting to salivate. In fact, I ended up having to give him a bite. My potatoes were creamy and my vegetables were perfectly seasoned. The Husband said his cornbread dressing was almost as good as his mother’s (meaning it was pretty darn good – if he’d said it was better than his mother’s, she wouldn’t speak to him again).
Sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon to me!
Food: If you are eating here for the first time, take my advice and order the fried chicken. Not that the rest of their menu items aren’t yummy, but it’s what they are known for. And it’s delicious! The side items are good ol’ basic Southern staples. It’s definitely a great place to go for comfort food.
Atmosphere: Casual and family-friendly. There were a lot of large family groups meeting up for lunch after church – teenagers, grandparents, young couples with small children, all enjoying their meals and each other’s company.
Service: Warm and attentive. The hostess was very friendly and seated us promptly. Our waitress was also very nice and polite and consistently checked on us throughout the meal to make sure we had everything we needed.