Nothin’ Fancy Cafe in Edenton
And the rest of the story . . . my last meal in Edenton was at Nothin’ Fancy Café, an unpretentious little store and eatery in an anonymous strip mall. Known locally for made-from-scratch country cooking, I was here to try more Southern style sides. And as can be readily seen from the white board specials, it delivered amply.
I had many questions about the dishes, and my sweet, motherly waitress patiently described them to me. Not really hungry, after I explained to my her that I wanted small tastes of as many things as possible, she helped keep the cost down by packaging my order as a sides sampler priced at around $10 or so.
I chose (clockwise): Cornfield peas (fresh black-eyed peas), Dolly’s corn pudding, Mrs. Boswell's cornbread, Sweet potato pudding, and Brunswick stew (made with chicken).
The famous cornbread was the fluffy sweet type, so moist and buttery, studded with corn kernels. Perhaps I’d made a strategic error ordering two sweet and starchy puddings, as well as the unintended repetition of the same cornbread repurposed and baked into the corn pudding. But I would have been sorry to miss either of them. A very rich custard binding together cornbread with sweet corn niblets in a zaftig swathe of eggs, even this corn pudding seemed like a demure skinny sister compared to the firmly packed, velvet-clad, voluptuousness of the bodacious sweet potato pudding dolled up with vanilla and caramelized brown sugar. Both were sweet enough to count as dessert, and the sugar-high was a welcome side effect of the leftovers reheated for breakfast the next morning.
The cornfield peas were quite plain, the better to appreciate their smooth texture. They provided a welcome foil for the more sugary companions dishes. Likewise the tang of the tomato base in the Brunswick stew offset the heavy and sweet flavors on my plate. Only lightly touched with smoke, the shreds of chicken were tender and interspersed with lima beans, corn, and okra. Everything was delicious, homey, and just what I was looking for here.
Most of my meal was packed to go and microwaved the next day for breakfast. Too full for dessert, I regret not ordering the pig pickin’ cake, if only to find out what such a creation might be. As reported here, the fried apple jack that went into my suitcase made a fine edible souvenir of my visit to Edenton.
Nothin Fancy Cafe & Market
701 N Broad St, Edenton, NC 27932
I just got a comment on my flickr page about Mrs. Boswell of the famous cornbread and wanted to share it here.
""Mrs. Boswell" was Beulah Boswell, my grandmother. I spent most of my childhood in Edenton in and around Boswell's restaurant. I used to walk in through the back kitchen door, grab 2 or 3 fresh-baked corn sticks out of the steam drawer, and I was one happy 6 year-old. Times when I'd go fishing I'd take my catch to the restaurant, where they'd clean it and cook it for me. My favorite menu item was fried clam strips. When I was at home sick or otherwise off from school, Grandmama would bring me a big ol' plate of clam strips or a cheeseburger with fries for lunch...and--lest we forget--some baked chicken for Mimi, her Pekingese. Good ol' hometown memories... --Steve Deyton"
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks for the reminder of what a wonderful meal you had there. I had bookmarked this place on my calendar hoping to make it out for the Edenton Tour of Homes, but I guess that tour only takes place every 2 years. Quite a haul from Charlotte if I'm not otherwise headed out that way.
You know, I never finished posting about all the eats I enjoyed last yr in NC. A friend will be making the trip soon and I was thinking I should wrap up the rest of them. Then getting this totally random, out of the blue comment yesterday almost felt like a nudge from on high to get to it.
Miss your voice in San Francisco!