[Vicksburg, MS] Walnut Hills

The restaurant is in a fairly large 19th century house. It could be cosy and “of the period” but it manages to be totally soulless. It’s a rabbit warren of a place and they spread the customers out between the various rooms. So, there’s a couple of occupied tables in this room, another couple in that room and, in the far distance, there’s another table occupied in a third room. It means there is absolutely no atmosphere and you sort of feel to have to have your conversation in hushed whispers, in case you disturb the other table’s hushed whispers. It’s a shame for somewhere rated as one of the city’s top restaurants.

The food was also a bit disappointing. The website makes much play of the history and southern planation cuisine but there’s not much reflection of that cuisine on the actual menu. We did our best to find what there was. For example, “tomato aspic”, noted on the menu as a southern speciality. Now, I know that stuff in aspic was quite common in European cuisine in the 19th and early 20th century, so I ordered it. It was, as might be expected, seasoned tomato juice, set with gelatin. There was a blob of cream cheese encased in the jelly. Perfectly pleasant and a light enough starter, but not one I’d be in a rush to order again. A cup of beef and vegetable soup was packed full of veg – carrot, corn, beans, etc. Really well made, except for the very heavy hand that had added the salt.

For mains, a small filet mignon was accurately cooked. The same heavy hand had seasoned it with salt but, otherwise, it was OK with the accompaniments of broccoli and onion rings.

The fried chicken is, apparently, award winning. Certainly it’s everything you expect. You can have it as all white meat, all brown or a mix. I ordered the mix and it was probably a bit of a mistake as, whilst the brown meat was moist and juicy, the white was somewhat overcooked and dry. Both had a lovely crisp, slightly spicy, coating. I ordered it with mashed sweet potato (which had been seasoned with, I think, nutmeg) and broccoli - both of them working well.

We didn’t bother with dessert, feeling they probably wouldn’t have been worth the calories.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold