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Pimento Cheeseburger at The Lamar Lounge – Oxford, MS

4 Jul

This burger, without question, is one of my favorite dishes in North Mississippi. We have lived in Oxford going on 3 years now, but it took us a while to find this gem of a bar/restaurant. The Lamar Lounge is a part of John Currence’s Oxford Culinary Empire. At last count, Currence operated 5 eateries in this little town of about 25,000.

lamarlounge_logo

As the logo suggests, the Lounge is a bit pig-centric. Yet the burgers are what keep me coming back for more. Especially so if you slather house made pimento cheese all over the perfectly cooked beef. Pimento cheese has long been a Southern delicacy and a treasured condiment for Dixie Diners in the know. In our opinion, nothing beats fresh, scratch made pimento cheese. Many varieties exist — and finding some in your local grocery store has become increasingly easier.

Lamar Lounge Pimento Burger Good

Basic ingredients are a good sharp cheddar, some quality mayo (we like Duke’s), and chopped up nuggets of pimento (mild red pepper). Some even add jalapeno for an extra kick. Palmetto brand pimento cheese out of the SC Lowcountry makes a delicious jalapeno blend. Look for it in Kroger or WalMart stores across the South.

Lamar Exterior Good

When driving down North Lamar, look for the red neon BAR sign. It is your beacon for good food and drink. Service is casual and very laid back in a hipster sort of way. Live music is performed on many nights. They even show a movie from time to time. Go to their web site or give ’em a ring for more details on that.

Lamar Interior

The interior is a bit dark — those seeking more Vitamin D can ask to be seated outback in their open air patio. That space is illuminated with Napa style patio lights. It also provides a scenic view (and a sniff) of their whole hog pig smoking operation. Yes, they cook whole hog here — a real rarity here in the Magnolia State. Deer antlers and other wild game adorn the interior walls. The bar, a tourist attraction on its own, once belonged to Eddie Fisher, star of stage and screen. Fisher, most famously the husband of starlet Liz Taylor, had his initials carved into the rich mahogany.

This is more of a locals dive when compared to other Oxford dining institutions. But this local suggests you drop by and enjoy a burger, some terrific seasoned fries, a cold Yalobusha brew, and some Hollywood history — right here in the heart of Mississippi Hill Country.

***Bonus Tip — the collard greens are tasty too!

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Regina’s Kitchen Adds Some Class to Mobile’s Government Street

4 May

It was a dark and stormy Tuesday in Mobile, but things were bright and cheery inside Regina’s Kitchen. I had entered the eatery once before. That was a few weeks back. I had been there to meet the owner in hopes of discussing an advertising opportunity I was pitching. She seemed like a lot of fun and the place looked great. The building had previously housed the French Market Cafe. That restaurant offered authentic New Orleans soups and sandwiches, but ultimately succumbed to financial difficulties and the owner’s health challenges. I was sad to see them go. They made a fine Roast Beef Po-Boy.

The interior at Regina’s is not altogether different than the French Market Cafe. It’s a very comfortable, welcoming space. Plenty of dining room inside and it appears they need it all. The crowds over the restaurant’s first year in operation have been strong and consistent. The lunch rush is a equal mix of attorneys, housewives, accountants, and little old ladies dolled up for a day out. I even spotted a couple “men of the cloth” dining in black & white at a nearby table.  Regina’s actually does a steady drive-thru business too.

Regina’s Kitchen features red & white checkered table cloths and a healthy menu of soups, signature salads, and sandwiches. Finding something appealing on the oversized, double-sided cardboard menu was easily done. Final decisions were tougher. I eventually opted for the day’s lunch special: Sliced Turkey on Croissant with Brie Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Chutney Mayo. The tipping point for my decision was the wedge of iceberg lettuce doused with a housemade blue cheese dressing. The salad came along with the sandwich at no additional charge. $7.95 for the entire package — what a deal!   

My sandwich was quite satisfying. My lettuce was really good too, although I wish I had asked for a little more blue cheese dressing. The dressing was excellent — not too goopy with large chunks of pungent cheese. Guess they were watching my waistline … Lord knows I don’t often do the same. Iceberg is often thought of as a “poor man’s lettuce,” yet it’s a nice treat once in a while. Especially if the wedge is big, cool and crunchy. A nice milky dressing is always an ideal foil.    

Not sure who John (above) is — but I gotta try his special sandwich. A “BPT” ??? A “PBT” ??? Not sure which name (if either) fits. I just love pimento cheese (I prefer homemade, not the mass produced stuff) and adding bacon to the party seems like a stroke of Dixie genius. ***Note: The only store bought pimento I can heartily recommend is Palmetto Pimento Cheese out of Pawleys Island, SC. It is nothing short of phenomenal (www.palmettocheese.com).  

My dessert (I don’t often treat myself at lunch) was Regina’s Mississippi Mud Cake. I saw it lurking in a metal serving pan behind the front register and I just could not resist it’s many delights. Glad I didn’t. It was a heavenly marriage of a dense chocolate brownie/cake topped with melted marshmallows and a rich fudge icing. It left me with a broad smile and a massive sugar buzz that lasted well into the afternoon.

Regina’s Kitchen is now on my regular weekday lunch rotation. That honor is not easily accomplished. But you just can’t beat a place that offers a clean and cheerful dining environment, a variety of fresh and healthy menu options, fair pricing, and “treat you like family” service. Well done, Regina. You are carrying on your family’s restaurant traditions with true grace and style!

Regina’s Kitchen – 2056 Government St., Mobile – (251) 476-2777

www.facebook.com/pages/ReginasKitchen/130215213681624

“Little House, Big Taste!”

16 Apr

Little House Bistro is really located in a little old house. They can found along Moffett Road in West Mobile. Historically, there has not been a lot of white table cloth dining in this part of town. You might even say that the Little House Bistro is a bit out of place here. I, however, welcome its existence here in the land of used car lots, auto body shops, fast food joints, and convenience stores.

It (as you can see above) is a cute little place. Locals tell me that it has housed a variety of businesses in days gone by. Yet I am hopeful that Chef Marc Walden’s Little House Bistro will enjoy a long and happy life here.  

White table cloth dining without the snobby attitude or outrageous prices — what a concept! Chef Walden and his staff are working hard to make a name for themselves. That effort can be seen in the little things — like fresh flowers on every table and the sunny, clean dining room. The large table in the next room was occupied by a group of older ladies from the local Red Hat Society. Those gals seem to know what’s good to eat, so I felt like I was in for a nice mid-day meal.

Marc Walden’s approach is simple yet powerful. Gourmet food prepared with fresh local ingredients and a decidedly Southern twist. It’s a great fit for this area and the early reviews have been quite positive. I was happy to hear that, but I had to get over there and try a few things out for myself. After all, I have been misled a few times in the past.

I pulled in on a sunny weekday afternoon and ordered up a “Deep South Burger” with a side of Deviled Egg Potato Salad. The burger turned out to be EPIC. The bread was fresh and sturdy enough to not buckle under the pressure of the burger’s rather weighty ingredients. Those ingredients included a large slab of grass fed beef (cooked to medium well), fresh mixed greens, tomato slices, house made pickles, a splash of “Comeback” aioli, and a generous blob (nice culinary term, huh?) of Walden’s pimento cheese. The best burger I’ve had in quite some time.  

The Deep South Burger @ LHB does Dixie proud

But let’s not forget the Deviled Egg Potato Salad. I love deviled eggs and Southern-style potato salad, so the dish was definitely speaking my language. It may have needed just a little sprinkling of salt and freshly cracked black pepper, but I was quick to notice that no salt and pepper shakers could be found on any of the dining room tables. No need to ask and no need to complain. The potato salad was the ideal texture and it wasn’t too wet (many restaurant potato salads are far too moist for my palate).

I walked away from the Little House Bistro feeling full and very impressed. Did I have any regrets? Well, yes. I really wish I had picked up a pint of pimento cheese and a jar or two of those incredible sweet/spicy pickle slices to take home with me. Believe me, I won’t make that mistake again.    

Little House Bistro – 6651 Moffett Rd, Mobile, AL

251 447 2623; www.littlehousebistro.com