Open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. BA, MC. Reservations for six or more.
Hickory Plantation, on the other hand, seems like the last of a chain. The plants are already yellowing in the white-wrought-iron New Orleans setting. The waiters bowl you over with enthusiasm and starting-gate speed, but tire before the finish, serving dessert without clearing away the dinner plates. "These are your pickle spears and your onion rings," they give away the information free, adding that your beans were prepared "with bacon and onion strained from it." (Where did they go, those unwanted bacon and onion bits?)
Hickory Plantation has some good ideas -- mulled wine for a winter starter, and a choice of four sauces (hot or mild vinegar-based Dixie, hot or mild tomato-based Texas). It offers ten percent discounts for Golden Agers and reduced portions for children. It sends along with your dinner a little kettle of creamy coleslaw, some leaden corn muffins, and -- the redeeming feature of the meal -- wonderful shoestring potatoes which could themselves be the path to fame and fortune.
But the basic material -- the barbecued meats -- have gone awry. They taste as if they been cooked with no seasoning, which is hardly remedied by the sauces, since they just roll off the surface. Their texture is more steamed than smoked, and little smoke flavor comes through anyway. Ah, that they had smoked them longer. Ah, that they had brushed them with sauce towards the end of the cooking. And, ah, that the tart Dixie sauce were thicker, the thicker Texas sauce less redolent of raw chili powder. Content yourself with the shoestring potatoes and hang in for dessert, a chewy caramelized pecan pie with distinction of crust and tasting like the pride of the South.
The pie costs seventy-five cents, and keeps good company with an ice cream pie and a lime-rum pie at the same price. Since you are not likely to limit yourself to pie, the main dishes run from $3.25 for chicken to $5.25 for spareribs, with most dishes under $4. A combination platter is available if you ask at $5.95. One can hardly quibble with such prices, and with such eagerly pleasant management one would hardly want to quibble anyway.