by The Great Foodini
I love a place with a story. Don’t we all? I mean most every restaurant has a story. Most of them are boring and they are the type of story that you nod your head and say yep every so often while smiling like an idiot thinking about laundry or something. During my 20 plus years of being a food writer, I have heard or struggled to pay attention to those type of stories.
Sometimes, a real story comes along that could easily be turned into a screenplay. Picture it, rural Greenville, Mississippi at the turn of the century…no not Y2K, I am talking about 1903. A family decides to place their energy into a grocery store. It does well for a while and then a flood ruins them. Then Big Doe Signa decided to keep the family afloat with bootlegging. After a while, they got out of that business when he sells his still for $300 and a Model T Ford and Mamie Signa perfected her Delta Tamale recipe and in 1941 a legacy was created. There is much more to the story and I encourage you to go to the Doe’s Eat Place website to read the rest of it.
Since Doe’s got started with the tamales, lets start there. There are a few Doe’s Eat Places around the country since the next generation of the Signa family took over and started a family franchise. The Doe’s in Biloxi is nestled inside one of the best family attractions on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a multi-million-dollar resort completely designed to have everything a family could want in a vacation during their stay. No matter where you eat at a Doe’s establishment though…those Tamales don’t change.
The Tamales are still prepared in secret. There was no way they were going to let me in on the secret recipe Mamie perfected all those years ago, but what I could find out is that they are slow-roasted for four hours and are adorned with beef, red pepper, chili powder and tomato paste. You definitely get a hint of cumin as well, wrapped in parchment paper.
When I asked if I could go in the kitchen sometime and watch them being made…let’s just say they were being very Christian with me by politely changing the subject and talking about other dishes…hint taken Ashley, I won’t ask again.
They were delicious. I could easily have ordered a dozen and called it a day, but as usual, I was on a mission to find the most in their menu so I pushed forward…imagine how boring this article would be if I just wrote about the tamales.
Ashley, the manager, seemed pretty confident in her menu. A sign of a good manager. She asked me if there was anything I wouldn’t eat and I told her under no condition should a brussel sprout ever be sat in front of me. She smiled and a few minutes later, there they were. She told me, please don’t be upset, I stand behind everything we make. I gave her the ole side eye and began to wonder if they wanted this column to be a good review or a bad one…I mean, I did warn her. “That’s a bold srategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for em” – (Dodgeball Movie reference) Anyways, I closed my eyes and brought a fork full of those wretched things to my mouth. She was right, I would easily order these again. For the first time in my life and maybe the only time, I enjoyed these tiny cabbages from hell.
Here’s why. They are low-heat roasted and sautéed in butter. Once the butter has all cooked down, water is poured into the skillet and the steam continues to cook the sprouts. At this point, bacon is added and they are sprinkled with parmesan and considered ready for human consumption.
The steaks on the menu are probably the most gargantuan pieces of prime beef I have ever seen. The flavor was excellent, they were tender as could be and I tried the porterhouse, which was actually large enough for my family of four to share during a normal meal. The temperature on the steak was perfect through every bite. The magician in the kitchen knows exactly what he/she is doing with those steaks. I also tried the ribeye. Again perfection.
I did save room for dessert and I tried the Mississippi Mud to pay homage to the Eat Place’s roots in muddy Greenville. The Mississippi mud, which is made in house from scratch is the silkiest, smoothest, creamiest chocolate heaven you can imagine. I am counting the days before I can go back to this place.