Thursday, March 17, 2011

Trip Down Memory Lane

In my younger days as a sales rep for WT Cox Subscriptions I got to travel through all of the diverse back roads of Mississippi.  There were two exceptionally enjoyable things about traveling through Mississippi that I fondly remember - the beautiful Antebellum Mansions which were found in the poorest of counties, and, of course, the food found in all of those little towns.  Many nights were spent in shady hotels wondering if my car would still be there in the morning.  I can't even imagine the number of miles I put on my cars traveling south on I-55 between Memphis and through Jackson on down to New Orleans. I even met my favorite author, John Grisham, on one of my trips down south.  Most sales reps would not like being a sales representative in the five poorest States in the country - to me, I enjoyed the challenge and the culture I experienced.

This past Tuesday night I was introduced to a restaurant in Franklin that brought back a lot  memories from those days, 55 South.  Joe needed some help picking up a rental car for his Spring Break trip to the beach, and asked if I could drive him and then go to dinner.  First of all, Joe is the kind of friend everyone needs - he shoots straight with you.  He's fun.  He has a heart of gold and a heart as big as Texas. When he asks you how you're doing, you may as well give him an honest answer because he's going to ask again "How are you really doing?"  I could write and write and write about the goodness of Joe, and could never give him justice.  I call him a friend, because he is one. 

Joe asked if I had ever eaten at 55 South.  I told him had I not only never eaten there, I had never even heard of it.  That within itself is pretty amazing in my book.  But if Joe said it was good, I was going to trust him, so we headed to downtown Franklin, parked in the free parking garage on 4th (I love Franklin for providing free parking!) and headed into 55 South.  55 South is just down from Puckett's Grocery and connected to Sol on 4th Avenue.  I liked it as soon as I walked in.

Entering 55 South was a little confusing for me.  It was obviously a nice place.   Not fancy, not really upscale, yet kind of upscale, but definitely a place with class.  But old wooden signage and scrappy decorations felt natural and not contrived as they often do. Joe told me that "55 South" is named for the Interstate area that runs from Memphis to New Orleans, I-55.  Then it all made sense...  It looked real. It felt authentic.  It certainly smelled authentic.  I automatically assumed the food was going to be good because the decor automatically took me back to some of those dives and BBQ joints I had eaten at in Southern Mississippi.

Joe ordered some Oyster's on the half shell.  I'm not one for seafood at all, and seriously don't know how anyone can eat something that looks so slimy as oysters...but Joe said they were good.  I trusted him, but wanted no part of it!  It took me a while to decide what I wanted to order, there were so many things to choose from.  I looked at the Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya, I looked at the Red Beans and Rice, and I looked at the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.  I wanted to order all three!  Then when the server was sharing his favorites, he mentioned some BBQ Spaghetti that immediately caused me to plan another visit to this place.  The server suggested I order the "Three In One" which gave me Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya and Gumbo.  I got a taste of all three, and all three were exceptional!  Each one seemed as authentic as if I were sitting in New Orleans enjoying the meal on Bourbon Street. 

The flavors were rich, the portions were plenty and the plates being carried by me again made it clear I would be back for another visit.  How could I have never visited this gem so close to my house?  How could I have never even heard of it??  I knew this place needed to be mentioned in my blog.  The experience was simply too good not to share.

I love trying new places, and I know I'll be back at 55 South in the near future.  I loved the atmosphere, the menu offered a good array of choices, and the service was friendly and professional.  Getting to spend some time with Joe was truly a blessing...and getting to take a trip down memory lane to my old Mississippi days was pretty sweet too.  You got to love a place where good food, good friends and happy memories all melt together.

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