Ever since the early 1980's and the appearance of the first Black Eyed Pea restaurant, places that feature home cookin' have been hugely successful. Families, in particular, are attracted by the possibility of a place that features food as good as Grandma can make it (though, of course, without her special touch of love she puts in each dish) at a price that won't leave their wallets drained. Two down home guys from Nacogdoches, Texas (a town which sparked Groucho Marx's immortal line: "Nacogdoches is full of roaches!") decided they would get in on the action some 18-20 years ago when they opened their first Cotton Patch Cafe. Now a thriving chain with numerous Texas and (one) New Mexico locations, Cotton Patch delivers the down-home goods, while still managing to seem as contemporary as Paris Hilton. Drawn by their charming radio commercials and in need of a good lunch fix on a busy, errrand-filled Saturday (aren't they all?), my lovely wife The Rock Star and I spotted one while driving and decided there and then to check them out.
The word of the day here is down-home-corporate. Comfortable booths surrounding tables. Faux pressed-tin table tops and faux brick wall panelings. Open kitchen. Some beer signs, although the place has a low/no alcohol policy. (It closes before midnight.) In a word, very much in keeping with it's Frisco, TX mall-nearby surroundings. The entire family plus little Grandma will feel right at home. (After all, a girl has to check out the competition for herself sometimes.) The Rock Star and I were seated right away and started perusing the expansive menu.
Even though the appetizer choices sounded tasty, the Rock Star and I decided to skip them and get right down to the business of lunch. My wife loves her chicken, so the Chicken Fried Chicken with carrots and sweet-potato casserole on the side (the latter vegetable was a special of the day) became her choice rather quickly. For me, a home cookin' joint lives and dies by it's Chicken Fried Steak, so I selected that, along with mashed potatoes and black-eyed peas (despite the fact that it wasn't New Years Day). In addition, I love great Chicken Enchilada Soup, and as it was also a daily special, elected to start my repast with a cup. Shortly after, my soup made it's appearance, sporting a nice, thick roux, chunks of chicken, and just a touch of green onions and tortilla strips. Marvelous and filling, it was one of the highlights of the meal, as were the complimentary light, yeasty rolls that my wife and I devoured while awaiting the main course. Both chicken and steak followed soon after, fork-tender, with light breading and very good cream gravy. The Rock Star also let me try her sweet-potato casserole. Sweet and light, it was also a highlight and should be offered on the menu every day. Carrots and peas were fine but nothing special. Cotton Patch Cafe offers slightly smaller portions called dixie belle plates for $1 less, and we definitely took advantage. Portions were still quite generous, so much so it left no room for dessert.
Our server Jordan was quite genial and quite good, although he was responsible for six tables, which meant that some minutes passed between iced-tea refills. (Most times, 3-4 tables is just about right for one waiter, particularly if he doesn't have to attend to large parties as well.)
Cotton Patch's website can be accessed at www.cottonpatch.com. Read their rather folksy history, and take note of all their menu has to offer. In addition to home cooking, burgers, salads, and such varied entrees as steaks, tilapia, and Norwegian salmon are also on the bill of fare. Seems like these boys want to make them some money!
Great home cookin', and much more, can be found for you, your family, and little Grandma too, at your local Cotton Patch Cafe. Visit soon, and remember:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!