Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Little Soul Food Country Diner - Heavenly Diner

I first tried the recently-opened Heavenly Diner on W. Main Street near downtown Jackson, TN, a couple months ago. The diner is a small space with just a handful of tables. Like the Four Sisters Soul Food on Winchester in Memphis,  Heavenly Diner features a short list of specials each day that makes visiting the place similar to eating diner at someone else's home. "Here is what we cooked today, pick something."

The restaurant does offer burgers, fish sandwiches and barbecue sandwiches each day along with whatever plate meals are being offered but I was in the mood for a soul food plate lunch the first time I visited. There were two vegetable options that day; green beans and turnips; so there was no choice involved there. For my main choice I was offered either pig feet or a beef roast. I'd had a beef roast cooked in my Crock Pot for dinner the night before so I decided to give the pig feet a try.

As much as I love pork I'd never had pig feet before. I wasn't particularly impressed. They have too much skin and connective tissue, and too slimy of a texture, for even my tastes. Keep in mind that I love eating pork rinds, neckbones and chitterlings but I am still saying that. The seasoning on them tasted good so I don't think the preparation was the problem. I think I've just finally found a part of the pig that I don't care for.   

The vegetables seemed a little bland when I first tasted them. When I asked about getting some hot green pepper sauce the young man working behind the counter told me they didn't haven any. Then an older man who ran the place offered me a bottle of his homemade vinegar pepper sauce. It was red and there weren't any peppers in the bottle but the stuff was great on the vegetables.

While I was eating I overheard the older man say he is thinking about offering breakfast in the mornings. The customer he was talking to said, "Oh, you can do breakfast too?" The man responded with shocked indignation, "Of course I can cook breakfast! I've been cooking for 60 years. How could I not know how to fix breakfast?"

The two men weren't there the next time I stopped in a couple weeks later. instead there were several women working behind the counter together. This time I ordered a barbecue sandwich with baked beans so I could sample something I knew I liked when done right. The meal only cost $5 and it featured a solidly good sandwich with a generous bowl of beans in a thick, satisfying sauce.

Unless they just want a sandwich I wouldn't recommend Heavenly Diner to anyone who is a picky eater since their choices will be limited. But I like seeing a place just cooking a couple of random good things from scratch each day. If you like genuine soul food and are willing to try most any food offered to you as long as the cook seems competent stopping by the little restaurant should be a rewarding experience.

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