Nine Mile – Asheville

After Mom and I drove around visiting old haunts, we met up with a couple of my writing and Facebook buddies at Nine Mile on Saturday. The restaurant is in an old building that Mom remembered stopping in after school when it was grocery store. Her elementary school bus dropped her off just across the street and then she would walk to her grandmother’s house on Cumberland Circle.

I was really glad for the chance to hook up with Kim and Michelle and their recommendation of the place was spot on. While busy, the food was quite tasty and delicious.

We started with Reggae Mylitis, a Caribbean version of nachos, with black beans, smoked gouda chipotte queso which we Big Upped with lots of peppers. The peppers were roasted, so not too spicy and the mango salsa was a nice touch.

For the entre, Mom and I shared their signature dish, the Nine Mile. It is a jerk chicken with ginger, squash, zucchini and fire roasted tomatoes. Layers of flavor and the rice allowed me to control the heat (we ordered medium and it was right on the edge of painful for me).

my dish


Michelle ordered the Raggy Road which was a cajun style tilapia with a white wine, creamy coconut chipotle sauce. Quite yummy, especially with the added shrimp.

michelles dish


For dessert, we went with the Satisfy My Soul Velvet Cake – truffle chocolate cake with a chipotle chocolate drizzle. There wasn’t much heat to the ganache but the chocolate melted in our mouths. Truly a fine ending to a fun meal.



As I mentioned before, it was busy and our server was run ragged. He was good and patient with us as first timers and with Mom wanting to try a local brew (he even brought out a taste of his recommendation – Pisgah Summer Ale – for her to try before she ended up with a glass). So good, she had two!

If you like a taste of the islands or enjoy Caribbean inspired cuisine, I’d definitely recommend a stop by here.


Marco’s Pizzeria – Asheville

Driving around the city of Asheville, seeing where my Mom grew up, made us hungry. We stopped on Merrimon Avenue at Marco’s New York Style Pizzeria.

The garlic bread was good – on a pizza crust with lots of garlic. It went well with the glass of Peroni, an Italian beer.

The pizza was also good – nice peppery sauce that included fresh tomatoes, nice flavor and quantities to the pepperoni and a sprinkling of mushrooms.

marco pizzaWorth a visit for a quiet place to enjoy a pie.

Steak n Shake

My Mom and I are continuing our travels across Tennessee and we came across a Steak n Shake in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia (it is really easy to fall into Georgia when you’re visiting the Chattanooga area). My last memory of being in one was insisting my parent’s take me to get the Star Wars collectable glasses when they came out. I didn’t remember the food at all.

Steak n Shake is a fast casual, sit down restaurant with a 50’s diner theme. The menu offers a lot of choices on burgers, hot dogs, melts and shakes. We started with chocolate milkshakes. Hand dipped, thick enough to need a spoon and well flavored, I ate half of mine before my meal was delivered.

I ordered the single steakburger with cheese. Not a very big patty (it didn’t fill the bun). With the lettuce and tomato and pickle on it, you could hardly taste the meat at all. The menu pushed the double steakburger and now I know why.

steak and shake

Mom ordered the patty melt and it was one of the best I had eaten in a long time – buttery, toasted bread, lots of cheese, a good burger  to bread ratio and the onions fried to perfection.

patty melt

We also ordered the chili cheese fries and they were good – nice amount of melted cheese and a pretty good chili on them.

Service was efficient and courteous.

Carriage House Restaurant – Natchez

Stanton Hall takes up an entire city block in Natchez. Originally a private home, it was a college for women before being revived in all its antebellum glory by the Pilgrimage Garden Club.

Stanton Hall with watertower

On the grounds is the Carriage House Restaurant. I had first heard about this place from a friend who knows how much I love fried chicken and I can’t thank her enough!

We started with silver dollar sized biscuits that came buttered and melted in your mouth. We ate one entire plate and then ordered more.

silver dollar biscuits

The biscuits kept us occupied while they fried our fried chicken to order. The chicken was worth the wait (although I did have to convince the server to keep the butter beans in the kitchen!).

fried chicken

The chicken was juicy from the buttermilk soak and the crust was crisp and perfectly seasoned. The mashed potatoes and gravy were good, too.

The Rotary Club was meeting in the main dining room (we were in the Queen’s Room) and the servers were being run ragged but you couldn’t tell it. They were quick with refills and to check in and very friendly to both the ladies of the Garden Club and us.

I highly recommend this place but check their hours – they aren’t open on Mondays or Tuesdays and only open from 11am to 2pm the rest of the week.

Magnolia Grill – Natchez, MS

For dinner, Mom and I went to Natchez-Under-the-Hill: the boat landing beneath the bluffs on the banks of the Mississippi River. From 1785 until about 1820, Under-the-Hill was the departure point for frontiersmen and their last chance to “whoop it up” before their long trek home on the Natchez Trace. It had a reputation for disreputable people and debauchery – just our style!

In a rebuilt saloon midway down Silver Street is the Magnolia Grill.

magnolia grill

We started with fried green tomatoes with shrimp, crawfish tails and hot sauce hollandaise. Perfectly cooked, the sauce was a lovely counterpoint to the tang of the green tomato.

fried green tomato

We also had the crabmeat stuffed mushrooms. I think the crab was frozen not fresh but there was a good flavor to the stuffing. The cheese was very bland, which was okay as it otherwise would have overpowered the delicate crabmeat.

crab stuffed mushroom

I ordered the shrimp and grits for my entre. It was a bit messy as the tails had been left on and had to be fished out of the sauce and grits. The shrimp were good but the sauce a bit too much and it drowned the grits.

shrimp and grits

The sweet potato fries were terrific. Crisp and sweet, they went fast!

sweet potato fries

The server kept Mom in cold beer (with a new frosty glass for every bottle). He did ignore my need for more iced tea but he was funny and personable and generally very aware of our needs.

I would certainly recommend this place again, especially with the river’s edge view of the Mississippi. We watched several barges go by and enjoyed watching the sunset until the rain nearly obscured the bridge.

Here is the Isle of Capri Riverboat casino at 6:32 (as we left the restaurant):

riverboat at 1732


Here is the view from the other casino fifteen minutes later as the rains poured down:

riverboat at 1745 in the rain

Pig Out Inn – Natchez, MS

My Mom and I are taking the long way to Asheville via the Natchez Trace, Cherohala Skyway and Blue Ridge Parkway. We started in Baton Rouge and drove up to spend two days in Natchez.

pig out inn

Within walking distance from our hotel in Natchez, Mississippi is the Pig Out Inn. You could smell the woodsmoke before you got within two blocks.

The exterior is a little sketchy and I’m not sure I would be comfortable coming here at night but for lunch it was perfect.

Decorated with lots of old license plates and funny pigs, it lives up to its motto of Swine Dining. The paper towel holders on the tables were old branding irons.

We ordered the pulled pork sandwiches. I got the plate so I could taste their barbecue baked beans. The meat wasn’t super juicy but it was nice and flavorful. The sauce is served in a bottle, warm. Only after pouring it over my sandwich, hand, arm and table did I realize how quickly it comes out of the bottle. the sauce had both heat and sweet.

pulled pork sandwichWould definitely recommend the place for lunch!


I don’t think I’ve had a bad meal at a John Besh restaurant and tonight was another night of good service, good food and good conversation.

I went out for dinner on Friday with more political cronies. This time with the Forum For Equality Executive Director, FFE Foundation Chair and a visitor from the Equality Federation in advance of an all day strategic planning session. We went to Lukes on St. Charles.

It had been a frustrating day, so I arrived early and went to the bar. I started with the Riverbend cocktail which was fruity and had a little bite from the ginger ale and vodka.

Folks had told me to try the fries. While they no longer cook them in duck fat, they are still darn good, especially with the garlic aioli.

For my entre, I had the grilled ribeye (entrecote grillee et frites). More fries – yeah! The steak was a hair more medium than the medium rare I ordered but it certainly wasn’t over cooked. It also had a lot of seasoning but the meat was well marbled and juicy.

IMG_20130712_191159_103Amazingly enough, I was too full for dessert!

The staff worked well together, especially as all of the group didn’t arrive together. They were knowledgable of the menu, drinks were refilled quickly and empty plates cleared off the table fast.

La Pagua – Lafayette

As I continue my efforts toward subverting the dominant paradigm, I met with a political crony in Lafayette today. The Mexican cuisine of La Pagua was perfect for our plotting.

Unable to decide as it was our first time there, we asked what the server recommended. She pointed us to the combo meals they have for lunch and went through the house specialities. I choose #9 with the steak taco, barbacoas taco and pastor taco. Nice sized bites with a lot of flavor, although larger slices of meat might have been a bit easier to keep corralled in the small, soft tortilla. They came with charro beans that were a little watery but full of pinto beans, onions and pork chorizo to give it that authentic cowboy bean taste.


The wait staff was fast, friendly and knowledgeable. The chips and salsa were placed on the table as we were sitting down and they were quick to check in for ordering, refills and to clear the table so we could lay out yellow legal pads full of plans. Even though it was lunch time rush, they didn’t seem to be pressuring us to leave once our meal was done and we were talking – always a plus in my book.

Thanks, Amy, for showing me that Lafayette has good, authentic Mexican cuisine and for paying for our meal! I appreciate it!

Carmo – A Tropical Cafe

I went to meet a political crony to plot to take over the world and he suggested a neighborhood sandwich shop. Carmo Cafe would not have been my first pick for lunch – as it supposed to be one of the best vegan and vegetarian places in the city. However, it was within walking distance of his house and, he was buying (thanks, John!), so what else was I to do but go?

I was pretty impressed with the variety of choices – enough to satisfy me (an unrepentant meat eater) but also vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc. Lots of locally sourced produce and flavor profiles from Asia, South America and the Caribbean.

I had the Tuna salad sandwich – sushi-grade yellowfin tuna marinated in a light vinaigrette, served on sourdough with avocado and cucumber. Very good flavor with a nice crunch from the cucumber.

carmo tuna

To drink I had the Cacau Fruit juice – filled with all sorts of good-for-you things but the most important, to my mind, is being able to drink the juice of the chocolate plant.

Quite the place – quirky art on the walls and eclectic furniture among lots of darn healthy food choices. Definitely worth another visit.

Drago’s Restaurant

We are still looking at hotels for the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference and today’s visit was to the Hilton Riverside. After the tour, we went down to Drago’s Restaurant to talk over some details and to enjoy a meal.

We, of course, started with a dozen charbroiled oysters. These are some of the best oysters in the city and surrounding parishes. I’m generally not a fan of oysters (especially raw) but I can eat a lot of these with their soaking of garlic butter and coming smoking hot from the grill.


We followed those with the Fleur de lis Shrimp – tasty little morsels with a spicy and flavorful sauce of red peppers and peanuts.


I went with the Seafood pasta with the shrimp and crab in a delectable cream sauce on a bed of angel hair pasta. Yummy!

seafood pasta

The servers were quick with refills (even bringing out a pitcher of Diet Coke for the table) and to check in to make sure everything was going well.

Thanks so much to Katie for the lovely meal and tour!