Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Best Fried Chicken

I probably should be concerned about my complete willingness to go drive over 700 miles on a weekend to get Fried Chicken, but I'm not. The consumption of some tasty bird may have been the official destination, but the other purpose of the trip was a change of scenery. Sometimes I just need to go and take in something different. Different walls, different roads, different air.

So with the trusty GPS as a guide, my husband and I headed south with the ultimate destination of Lorman, Mississippi. (See Lorman on a map here.) It's a tiny town and about the only standing building is The Old Country Store. It's questionable how it's still standing; it could be a testament to the old adage "they don't make 'em like the used to." Quickly assessing the building's ramshackle exterior, I know it was not a place I'd ordinarily stop but based on good word (Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt) it's contents would prove well worth the risk. Tempting me with a promise of the best fried chicken ever was enough enticement to make the drive and go for it.

As soon as we walked in the door, owner Arthur Davis, or "Mr. D" as he's known there, greeted us with a friendly reminder to leave our diets on the nail by the door. After driving over 300 miles to get fried chicken, any thoughts I might have had of a so-called diet were fading, and the heavenly smells from the kitchen were happily stomping those remaining thoughts to tiny bits. Walking through the restaurant, which is proudly announces its heritage as an old country store by the wooden floors, the shelves to the ceiling and the ladders on casters and guide rails.
A simple buffet of mac & cheese, greens, peas, dirty rice, cornbread muffins and of course, the chicken awaits the large open room of tables and hungry diners. One bite confirmed that every single mile of the drive was worth it because this really was the best fried chicken anywhere. The secret? Mr. D cooks the chicken and doesn't use chicken that has been frozen. I wouldn't be surprised if some of what was served at lunch was happily clucking and pecking just a few hours prior to meeting my plate. There wasn't a bad item on the buffet, but the chicken was outstanding. The dirty rice reassured me that the stuff Popeye's scoops into a styrofoam cup and call by the same name doesn't begin to compare to the real deal. At this point, I'm not so sure about that stuff Popeye's sells, but I've promised myself I will from here forward only consume it under the most dire of circumstances.

The drive to Lorman was a bit further than we wanted to make as a day trip, so we chose to make a weekend of it and stay in Greenwood, with a visit to Vicksburg as well. The weather was flawless and the change of surroundings was a welcome breath of fresh air. The people in the area exude southern hospitality. Any town that wants to attract visitors could learn from the relaxed and generous nature of the people in the small towns along the Great River Road in Mississippi.

More to come about this trip to Mississippi...


Scott Ladewig said...

Glad to hear the fried chicken lived up to Alton's opinion from Feasting on Asphalt 2. We're going to be in Jackson for a family reunion in July and have been planning to head over to Lorman for a taste ever since we watched that episode. Glad we're not the only people who plan trips around food.

greenchile1 said...

Just returned from a trip to Lorman to try Mister D's fried chicken. It was worth the trip from California. The place was empty which turned out to be a great thing for me. When I walked in Mister D was eating a plate of his own food I filled a plate sat down with him and enjoy a fine meal and some great conversation.

If you get a chance it's worth the trip.

Nolan said...

We too saw "Feasting On Asphalt 2" and fell in love with the personality of Mr. D. We traveled to Vicksburg for a 2 night stay. We were only going to the Old Country Store Sunday, because we wanted to try other restaurants in Vicksburg that Monday. I have always loved fried chicken and "soul food" is an added draw. My elementary / high school always had the best tasting chicken, and I have never found any bird that was better. Sorry Mr. D, your chicken comes in 2nd in my book. For someone to claim that they have the "best fried chicken" thats to much of a challenge for me to pass up. So we made the journey. Upon arrival we were greeted by Mr. D and his staff and quickly seated. I didn't waste gut space on salad, I came for the chicken. At first bite I knew I had something good. The chicken was crispy outside and moist and juicy inside. If you remember when Alton took his first bite he didn't say a word for a while. As if he only had seconds to be with the chicken. The reason for that is your mind is receiving signals of a good crunch, a different (for me) flavor, and abundant moistness, so you don't want to interupt that. As a matter of fact many times Mr. D would come to our table and engage in conversation I had to stop eating(to be polite). It was hard not to continue eating his chicken. Sunday I had 5 pieces, we went back Monday where I had 7 pieces. It really is that good. Oh the Blackberry cobbler is a must have, especially with Ice Cream. One Note Mr. D's does not accept credit/debit cards, glad we called first. Every since our visit I have been trying to justify another trip to Lorman. We even joked about relocating to Port Gibson. Enjoy and tell him Nolan said hi.

Lorrie said...

Glad you guys had a good experience with Mr. D and his chicken. I still wonder if some of that chicken wasn't clucking around out back earlier that day.
I too am working an angle to get back there sometime this fall. There's lots of Good Eats along the way. Greenwood, Mississippi is a real treat for foodies with so many good local restaurants. Plus Alton hasn't guided me wrong yet!

Nolan said...

Hello everyone, we all know that Mr. D has some good eating bird. This may not be the site to post this question; but here goes. While driving South from Vicksburg to The Old Country Store, we passed an old small jet parked on the East side of Highway 61.Does anyone know the history of it? Is it just an eyecatcher or what? I just did a Google search and came up with nothing. Since Lori's site is about food and traveling, can we playfully float a rumor that this is the newest dining experience to be offered in the area. A "Dining Plane(Smile)". I have a nice picture of it but I don't see a way or link to post it. Thanks, Nolan

Lorrie said...

Nolan, have you tried talking to the folks at the Vicksburg either in the Visitor's Center or the city offices? We stopped in at the Visitor's Center when we first came into town there to get a little info about what to see around town. There were two nice ladies working there who would answer about any question that came their way.
Their website is vicksburgcvb.org. The city has a site here as well.
If it's close to Vicksburg, I wouldn't be too surprised if they know just what you're talking about. Feel free to come back and post just what exactly is the story behind the old jet!

Anonymous said...

Hello again Lorie and all of the fellow Mr. D's Chicken Lovers. Just wanted to say that the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson will be open starting October 1 through the 10th. If memory serves me right Lorman is less than 100 miles from Jackson. Driving time is about an hour and 25 minutes. Great opportunity to enjoy the fair and some of Mr. D's table fare. Hope to see you there. Nolan

W said...

There are several of us from the Jackson area looking at a Saturday lunch ride down to the Old Country Store. Weather permitting, and if its not too cold, we will ride our cycles down first Saturday in Dec. Called yesterday to be sure they are up and running and serving away, which I was assured was the case.

In addition to the chicken and the cobbler, what else is really good? Anything special or really good on the veggies side? Salads?

Lorrie said...

It's not a place you go for the sides, but from what I recall everything there on the side was good. Coming from Arkansas, it was a surprise for us odd that they didn't serve mashed potatoes. They serve a cajun rice, which is very good.
The deserts are good and vary daily, so save some room. We had cobbler that day and it was well worth saving a little spot.
Everything is homemade, and as my husband jokes, that chicken was probably clucking around a few hours prior to our consumption!