Atmosphere: Relaxed and quiet.
Price range: Dinners $3.25 to $5.25; Special prices for oldsters and children under 12.
Credit cards: Master Charge and BankAmericard.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Special facilities: Accessible to the handicapped.
Reservations: Not needed.
Everybody's waiting for dinner and you don't feel like cooking. No matter. Pile them all in the car and head for Hickory Plantation, a mile or two east of Annadale on Little River Turnpike. You deserve the rest, and they deserve an evening out.
This is what my husband and I did not long ago, and we had delicious fare, all we could eat and more, and the price didn't knock a hole in our budget. If kids are in the family, chip off $1.25 from the menu price for each child. And ten per cent off for the elderly.
The Hickory Plantation is a new restaurant is an old building. It has a new approach to tested recipes, an old-fashioned family dinner or certainly a plantation supper, with many good side dishes to complement the generous entrees.
A brick planter, lots of greenery, white grill wwork and little Turkish towels for napkins add to the impression of being right out there on the plantation grounds.
Choose from lean, special cut spare ribs, $5.25; short ribs, $4.25; brisket, $3.75; fresh, sliced country ham, $3.75; sliced pork shoulder, $3.75, or half chicken, $3.25. And everything has that luscious, hickory-smoked flavor.
My husband ordered the brisket and I chose the chicken. The service was fast, and while we waited the waitress brought us a basket of melt-in-your-mouth corn muffins with a plateful of rich butter. But watch the kids. They're likely to ruin their dinner, the muffins are so delicious.
And the dinner is so full of interesting dishes, save room. Each dish is served in separate little pots; all were good. Especially the baked beans. I couldn't get enough. There also was a pot of cole slaw, (extremely good) a dish of pickles, one of onion slices and a choice of sauces.
We chose two: the Texas sauce, a tomato-based barbeque sauce which is very tangy, and the Dixie sauce, a vinegar-based old-fashioned barbeque sauce served in most of the South. The other choices are red pig sauce, advertised as "not for the weak of heart" and similar to the Dixie sauce, I understand, but much hotter, and Mex-Tex sauce, also "guaranteed to take your breath away."
About the only thing we didn't find up to our expectations were the French fries that come with every entree. Mine were cold, somewhat bland and not very crispy. The entrees, however, made up for what the potatoes lacked. My half chicken was piping hot, well cooked (I hate half-done chicken) and had a delicious hickory-smoked flavor. It was crispy where it should have been and moist and tender in the right places.
My husband's brisket, according to report, was "just great." Not too fat and with the flavor he likes. The sauces added just the fillip of zestiness we were looking for.
I ordered a pot of tea, 35c, and they served it just the way I like it - with dinner and not before, getting cold while my food is being prepared. My husband had coffee, also 35c, also good.
Then it was time for dessert. I could hardly handle another bite. But when I see pecan pie on the menu, "I can't say no. "I wasn't born a Southerner for nothing. It was 75c and rich and full with a creamy filling and crunchy pecan topping. There also is ice cream for 50c and diaquiri pie and plantation pie, 75c each.
Our total bill came to $8.79 including tax (not tip), and we had a delightful evening for little more than a song.