The hubby and I have driven by Thomas Pit for years and, every time, we see the sign and comment that we really should try them “someday”. Someday came on a Saturday evening when we drove out for dinner. Open since 1932, their small dining area had a bit of rustic whimsy. Old fashioned lanterns hanging over a window were paired, somewhat incongruously, with a large pair of steer horns. The booths were made from dark wood and red pleather, which played off the tan tile and dark brick interior. The back dining section had tables and chairs, and continued the dark colors and steer horns.
After taking a few minutes to study the menu, we stepped to the counter and ordered. One small pork plate with fries and slaw for me and a large chicken plate with fries and potato salad for my husband. We added a drink for each of us and a slice of coconut pie and claimed a booth. While we waited, I stepped off to the restroom and marveled at the tiny size. With barely enough room to turn around, it was a testament to the age of the building, but be forewarned if you have mobility issues or are traveling with someone who does–you are probably better off getting your food to go.
Our food came up quickly, heaped high upon our plates. I dug into my plate (shown at the top of the post) coleslaw first. The vinegar based slaw featured finely minced cabbage with a bit of a bite from the pepper and a touch of a lingering burn. Despite being minced, there was some heft to the texture, so it didn’t feel mealy and held together nicely. The pork was tender and juicy with a deep flavor. More moisture released as you bit and if you paused before chewing, would soak out onto your tongue. I generally like vinegar based coleslaws with my pulled pork, but in this case, I found that there was too much going on. I preferred to eat them separately so that I could appreciate each flavor.
The fries were broad and flat, and fell visually into the territory covered by premade and frozen fries. One bite, however, reassured me that these were not the flavorless fries from the freezer case. Instead they tasted homemade. Light on the grease with a barely crunchy shell and a smooth interior, they were the perfect shape for dipping, but tasty enough that no ketchup was needed.
In addition to our plates, our tray had arrived with a basket of bread. Thickly sliced and lightly buttered, it was toasted just enough to have some color and a light crunch, while still retaining a chewy texture. The bread itself had a nice flavor, which was accented by the butter.
The hubby enjoyed his meal, declaring it “some of the best bar-b-que we’ve had in an age”. The potato salad really caught his attention though. Before I had even settled into my meal, he was pointing a fork in my direction with an adamant “You must try this!” And it was outstanding. Silky smooth with fine pieces of potato and bits of egg.
We shared our slice of pie. The crust was loose and (happily) not Graham crackers. Instead, it was more like cake infused with a coconut flavor. The cream filling was dense and pillowy. Toasted coconut added a bit of crunch and color and the whipped cream a bit of airiness. Delicious.
Thomas Pit is charming. With decor that feels like an throwback to another era and a selection of sides which includes a prominent rack of Golden Flake chips, it feels homey and cozy, a place to push the pause button and enjoy a slice of pie. The staff was pleasant and helpful and we greatly enjoyed our meal. Next time we’re looking for bar-b-que in Madison, we’ll know just where to head.
Total for the meal: $23.90 (includes one small pork plate, one large chicken plate, one slice of pie and two drinks)