Executive Dining

by

Published: September 13,1999

Anything as quaint as a carriage house would certainly seem worthy of a visit. Natchez’s recently refurbished Famous Carriage House Restaurant & Lounge calls for repeat trips, if for nothing else – to sample the specialty of the house, their very own, extremely refreshing, mint julep. At $3.25, we thought it was well worth the effort – in spite of the fact that it was only noonish, far, far before the usual time we imbibe.

Be assured, there is more. The steaming hot-from-the-oven, mini-buttered biscuits and jelly, alone, are worth the trip. But, there is even more.

The two specialties of the house are old Southern favorites. One is fundamental to any Southern dinner – Southern-fried chicken with rice and gravy. The other was formerly a mainstay – especially at our house for Sunday dinner – which seems to have fallen by the wayside. It is very seldom that we find baked ham with raisin sauce anywhere, anymore. This dish is served with potatoes au gratin. Both are accompanied by the vegetable of the day and are priced at $6.95 and $7.25, respectively. A child’s portion of one of these two specialties is one-half price.

Our chicken was tender and moist, and was covered with a crisp coating of light breading that was cooked to a golden brown. It was nearly perfect. The thick center-cut slice of ham was tasty to a fault and the accompanying raisin sauce lent a perfect finish to the meat. The sauce was neither too thick nor too thin (our usual complaint with sauces of this type), nor was it overpoweringly sweet, another common fault found in raisin sauces.

Other entrees include pan-broiled or fried chicken livers, broiled calves liver with grilled onions, hamburger steak with mushroom gravy, fried jumbo shrimp or fried Louisiana oysters. Prices run a gamut from $5.75 to $10.95 and all are accompanied by the aforementioned biscuits, potatoes au gratin, vegetable and a choice of salad or dessert.

We would usually forgo the salad in favor of the dessert, but at the Carriage House the salad menu includes tomato aspic, which is not to be missed if, like us, this was another of your favorite foods in a former life. Other salads listed are tossed green salad and frozen fruit salad.

A pair of main course salads are also offered. The Kings’ ($5.75) is a tossed green salad with ham and cheese strips, garnished with olives, pickles and hard-boiled eggs. The Queens’ ($6.25) is a combination of tomato aspic, chicken salad and potato salad served with pickles and olives.

Appetizers are chicken gumbo ($2.50/$3.25), seafood gumbo ($3.75/$4.50) and shrimp remoulade ($6.50/$7.95). Again, a serving of seafood gumbo and shrimp remoulade together would make an excellent meal.

Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, a grilled cheese (which comes with a cup of chicken gumbo) or ham, lettuce and tomato sandwiches are also served.

Desserts, which are all made on the premises, are chocolate or lemon tart, baked custard and Natchez Pecan Pie. This latter is not offered as one of the choices included with some of the meals. All are topped with real whipped cream.

We found the service to be both friendly and efficient. Courses were brought to our table promptly and timely and we would offer kudos to the staff.

The Famous Carriage House Restaurant & Lounge was established in 1946 by Katherine Grafton Miller, the Founder of the Natchez Pilgrimage. It is on the grounds of Stanton Hall which is located at 401 High Street. The house was built in 1857 by Frederick Stanton. It is one of the most visited National Historic Landmarks in America today. It was purchased in 1938 by the Pilgrimage Garden Club and we suggest a tour of the “palatial residence,” as it was termed by the Mississippi Free Trader in an article describing its completion in 1858.

There is a gift shop located in the basement of Stanton Hall.

If you have not eaten at the Carriage House lately, we suggest keeping it in mind if you are in the Natchez area during lunch (or evenings during pilgrimages). If you have never tried it, then it is a must.

Natchez’s Famous Carriage House Restaurant and Lounge is located behind Stanton Hall, at 401 High Street. Hours are from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. daily. The restaurant is only open for lunch except during pilgrimages. During pilgrimages only, it is open in the evening from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. A coat and tie are not required. Reservations are recommended. Mastercard, Visa and American Express cards are accepted. The restaurant is handicap accessible. Telephone: (601) 445-5151.

Bill Patrick’s column appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. He has written extensively about restaurants for more than a dozen years and has served in the kitchen, dining room, behind the bar and as a food service inspector. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those held by the Mississippi Business Journal, its staff or its advertisers. Comment is welcome at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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