I'd been noticing the BluesFest House of Soul Food across the street from the mall on Highland in Jackson for several months now. But the parking lot was always empty, making me assume the new restaurant wasn't open yet. I admit I probably should have put more effort into scoping the place out, but it is right down the street from Latham's Meat Company so any time I'd pass by around lunchtime I'd already have a full stomach. In fact, I'd just eaten at Latham's about about a month ago when I noticed the lot at BluesFest was full of cars.
The sign announcing the restaurant's "chitt'lin drive thru" assured me there was some serious soul food being served inside the spacious building.
It turns out that the restaurant had been open for several months locals were beginning to discover it. It made me wish I'd stopped in earlier, but my love for the ribs at Latham's makes it hard for me to not eat there whenever I get a chance.
The inside of the restaurant is heavily decorated with guitars and other blues-related memorabilia and there was blues music playing in the dining room during my visit, which all combined to create a very enjoyable atmosphere.
I had a good feeling about the food as soon as I noticed the bottles of various varieties of homemade hot pepper sauces.
There are a lot of playful little touches that add to the experience at BluesFest. The servers use aluminium trashcan lids as serving platters.
All of the food that I saw looked great. I was torn between the pork chop, the grilled fish and the fried chicken when the man in front of me in line ordered a pork chop with greens and cabbage and I just asked for the same thing he was having. The little touches continued to add up when I realized that all the drinks are served in one quart Mason jars and every meal includes the option of either a dinner roll or your own little cast iron skillet full of fresh cornbread. I'm not sure why anyone would order a plane roll with those choices.
The Italian-seasoned pork chop was baked and smothered with a mix of finely chopped veggies in a tasty broth. It and the sides were all excellent, especially once I hit my greens and cabbage with the homemade green hot pepper sauce. The cornbread was sweeter than I prefer but that might have been something of a blessing since it cause me to just eat a few little pieces instead of devouring the entire skillet full. Everything was good enough that when I'm on Highland in Jackson in the future I'll be faced with a similar dilemma to the one I encounter when I work near the Collierville Square. In Collierville I frequently flip a coin to decide between lunch at Gus's Fried Chicken and Captain John's Barbecue. I'll probably have to do the same thing to pick between lunches at Latham's and BluesFest.
On my was out at BluesFest I stopped by the restroom where the music themed continued. The men's room was labeled B.B. King's while the lady's was labeled Tina Turner's.