Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the Road Eats - Shatley Springs

The last stop of note on last week's mountain trip was one of those middle-of-nowhere finds. I write about it less to raise awareness of its presence and more to emphasize how even in the middle of BFE, you can come across some gems. On our adventure, the gem to be found is the small destination of Shatley Springs, NC. The history of the springs is that one Martin Shatley in the late nineteenth century managed to "cure" some of his ongoing dermatological ailments in the waters of the spring. If you want to learn more about the story, there is a detailed history of the springs as well as Martin Shatley's original testimony at the springs (be warned that the testimonial is full of lengthy descriptions of Shatley's medical maladies that are not for the fait of heart or stomach).

Shatley Springs Food Part I

Shatley Springs Food Part II

Shatley Springs is more than just a trickle of water from the ground. Around the spring itself have sprung up many little shops, small cabins around a lake and a restaurant (guess which one we went to). The primary order at the restaurant at Shatley Springs is the lunch food selection. For those of us just passing through town (if you can call it that), this sampler is the best bet to get all this local eatery has to offer. Not all of the food fit in one picture. They have wheelie carts to transport it all to each table. The main courses are fried chicken breasts and country ham. The fried chicken is decent and the ham is a little salty, but the litany of Southern side items is where this restaurant really shines. You receive a healthy sampling of cornbread and biscuits with some strawberry jam for a topping. Alternatively, you can cover your food in one or both of two gravies - one flour-based and the other more akin to drippings but both packing tons of greasy spoon flavors. Pinto beans by themselves are fine but topped with the provided red pepper relish become outstanding with smokey sweetness. Mashed potatoes, creamed corn, cole slaw, steamed cabbage, green beans, and cinnamon apples round out the feast. To wash it all down is some classically prepared sweet tea. And if all this is not enough, they will refill any and all of these items for free if you manage to finish any of them, plus you get one dessert per person.

Shatley Springs Desserts

For dessert, you have the simple choice of banana pudding or one of about 5 kinds of cobbler (when we went, I believe they had blackberry, strawberry, peach, cherry, and apple), all of which can be served a la mode. The blackberry cobbler was a great combination of sweet, tart and cobbler-y, but the banana pudding was absolutely flawless: banana flavor with some bananas, Nilla wafers, and whipped cream. A side of vanilla ice cream certainly did not hurt either. This restaurant represents the South at its best. Real good country home cooking with terrifically friendly service.

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