The Lady A and I stumbled across E&N on our way somewhere else. But with the only real goal being a tasty lunch, we were intrigued enough to pull over and park. From our direction, the OPEN sign was half hidden behind a snow cone truck so after double checking that they were, indeed, open, we stepped inside.
E&N reminds me of the type of restaurants we would find up in the mountains when I was a kid. The counter is immediately in front of the door, with a food prep area to the left, a couple of tables to the right and a couch and entertainment unit behind the tables. The cooking was done somewhere behind the food prep area. Outside, additional seating was found under a large awning.
The owner was friendly, talking us through the various menu options, explaining his cooking methods, and describing spice levels. Perhaps we looked health conscious because we got quite the run down on “healthy” options–grilled fish, steamed veggies, etc. I was happily surprised to hear those options at what was otherwise a meat and three styled dinner.
We placed our orders at the counter. I selected a plate of fried catfish, macaroni and cheese, pinto beans, and “jiffy style” cornbread. Lady A opted for the grilled tilapia, fried green tomatoes and jambalaya. Each meal came with a canned soft drink and a bottle of water. I’m guessing the bottled water was because it was a hot day, but it was a nice touch and much appreciated.
We took a seat at one of the tables and chatted as we waited for our food. Everything was cooked to order, so this was not fast food. However, if you are in a hurry, you can opt to call your order in and have it ready when you arrive. When our food came out, it was well worth the wait.
My catfish (shown at the top of this post) was lovely–no trace of a fishy taste, breaded with a tight crumb coating with just a hint of spice and a bit of a crunch. Despite being fried, they were not grease soaked. Normally, when I eat catfish it becomes primarily a vehicle for tartar sauce. It’s not that I don’t like fish, it’s just that I like tartar sauce more. So when the owner asked me if I would like tartar sauce, I gave an enthusiastic yes. In the brief moment before he returned, I took a bite of one of my fish sticks. And kept right on going, because the fish was perfect as was, no tartar sauce required. However, the tartar sauce was equally lovely, creamy with a full flavor peppered through with a sweet pickle relish. I was in real danger of just eating it straight from the cup. It’s a rare dish that I enjoy just as much with condiments as without and this one nailed it.
My macaroni and cheese had the wonderfully cheesy, slightly crunchy coating that comes from being finished in the oven. The cheese sauce was thin and undeniably made with real cheese. It was served piping hot and I kept nearly burning myself checking to see if it was cool enough to eat yet. (Pro tip, checking temperature by taking a bite is perhaps not the best approach. Not matter how delicious it is.)
My pinto beans were sadly average. A little soupy, a little salty, the softened beans floated to the surface. The corn bread made up for it though. I had had the option of “hot water” cornbread, cooked in a skillet, or “jiffy style” sweet cornbread cooked in the oven. I opted for the sweet cornbread and was skeptical based on the crumbly appearance. But this cornbread made a strong case for drier corn breads, just a hint sweet, with a wonderful flavor, it would be perfect to crumble into chili.
Lady A selected the original seasoning for her tilaia and thought it could have used a little bit more of a kick, but she enjoyed it all the same. The fried green tomatoes were her stand out item getting several enthusiastic accolades, but the jambalaya she wasn’t as crazy about, calling it “decent”.
E&N is the kind of gem I love to uncover–delicious food in an unexpected location. They offer breakfast as well as lunch and the menu ranged from classic like chicken and waffles to more adventurous dishes like pig feet and chitterlings. Lunch specials are available for $5.25 and, based on the size of our “plates”, would be more than enough food. I will absolutely be back.
Total for the meal: $8.95
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