If you had invited me to a Beatles' themed restaurant, I would probably have passed, since anytime I hear "theme restaurant", I always think more time is spent on the theme than the food. In the case of Mean Mr. Mustard's Cafe in Hendersonville, NC, I couldn't be more wrong. We were in Hendersonville last week and since our first choice had already closed for lunch (for some reason our schedule and restaurants in NC always seem to be out of synch), I vaguely remembered reading some positive remarks about Mean Mr. Mustard's and we headed downtown to find the restaurant.
Located down a side street in Hendersonville (133 4th Ave East), we found that they were open for breakfast/lunch 7 days 8am-2:30pm and Thursday -Saturday evenings 6pm-8:30pm). Luckily it was around 2pm on a Friday when we got parked and made it to the restaurant. There are lots of Beatles decorations on the walls and the background music is all Beatles' music , plus most of the menu items have either a Beatles' connected name or another music related name. Instead of like most themed restaurants I have eaten at, the food here was the star, NOT the decorations. We had such a great meal that day, we returned the following week, eight days to be exact....I just realized that made it "8 Days A Week"!! Since I didn't have my camera on the first trip, this review is going to be a combination of our two visits.
Last week, my wife had "The Walrus Chicken Salad Sandwich - diced chicken breast with red grapes, almonds, raisins, and cilantro served with tomato and greens on fresh baked focaccia bread". This was a very good chicken salad sandwich, but we would only rate it very good and nothing that would make you return right away. However, my choice turned out to be the winner (usually my wife chooses the best meal) when I reluctantly ordered "The Grand Funk Reuben" - corned beef, swiss and mozzarella cheese, and sauerkraut served open face german-style on thick, homemade rye bread with authentic brandied Russian dressing". I say reluctantly, because I love reubens, but the words "open face" really threw me off. Well friends, I'm here to say that this was probably the best reuben that I have ever had in this area. It was so good that is one of the reasons we went back for the second time.
On the second visit, we decided to split the reuben and try another item and we chose "Frankie - the good american version of the reuben, with chicken sausage, saurekraut, and swiss cheese on rye, topped with mozzarella cheese and a mean mr. mustard sauce". To be honest, we never could decide which of these sandwiches was better. Although they have some similar flavors, there are enough differences to make each of them unique. I would really have a hard time deciding which one to order next time. Which brings me to what I AM going to order next time - While waiting for our order we saw several orders of French Toast arrive at other tables...NOW...that's all I have on my mind. It comes either as "French Toast Cordon Bleu - egg dipped thick slices of house made bread, stuffed with ham and swiss cheese, then grilled golden brown with choice of grits or home fries" OR "The Full Monte (plain without ham and swiss)".
I'm sure there's some local restaurant that can please me without having to drive into the middle of "who knows where". As most of you know from reading this blog, Carolina Cafe in Gaffney, which was formerly Carolina Cafe in Chesnee is my favorite restaurant in Upstate SC. My second favorite is now Grits and Groceries at Saylors Crossroads (this is somewhere between Belton and Anderson). Once again, I have found a great place to eat....but it's over an hour drive to get there!! The restaurant is owned and operated by Heidi and Joe Trull. Heidi previously owned and operated the popular New Orleans restaurant Elizabeth's and Joe was the pastry chef for ten years at Emeril Lagasse's New Orleans Restaurant NOLA.
All four of us started with the tomato pie appetizer which also came with maque choux. This is one dish that must really be experienced, there is no way I could faithfully describe how good it was. Above are two photos, one as the pie is served and one with a look inside the pie.
For entrees, two of us chose the catfish po boy, one chose the shrimp po boy and one had the daily special - Greek meatloaf. While all were cooked to perfection, they paled in comparison after the tomato pies. We all agreed, if we could back up time, we would have just ordered two tomato pies each or one tomato pie and an additional different appetizer. Even though, we were all pretty well stuffed by this time, we had to try the desserts....believe me...DON'T miss dessert!! The only problem is that they have such a wide range of desserts, including homemade ice cream, that it's hard to decide. Below are the desserts we chose:
Two of us had the fried sweet potato pie.
One of us chose the carrot cake and in case anyone thinks they don't like carrot cake, they haven't had carrot cake from Grits and Groceries
And saving the best for last, the fig bread pudding with white chocolate caramel sauce. This is an "out of this world" dessert.
Besides the food all being great, the service was beyond reproach, some of the best I've had in a while, especially considering the meal was being served in an old country store. One last thing, they DON'T take credit cards....cash or checks only. For hours (breakfast and lunch only) and directions, check out their web site: Grits and Groceries