Blue Levee: Mississippi Comfort Food
Like the raspy, whispered tunes of a Mississippi John Hurt album, Blue Levee, a ramshackle restaurant on the shoulders of the state's namesake river, exudes soul. Not the "Lawd, I'm a-comin' " variety. But the tempered kind that lives in every creaky porch on this sacred alluvial plain.
John Lewis, a Rosedale, Mississippi, native son, and his artist wife, Andrea Drummond, originally from nearby Greenville, moved back from Colorado to open this culinary ode to the Delta in an old gas station. A shanty-style screened porch, reminiscent of sharecropper shacks, opens to the dining room plastered with old license plates, where local bands set up.
While you'll find the staples—notably the Delta's deep-fried holy trinity: catfish , green tomatoes, and, of course, okra—John earns his chops with an evolving list of specials; for instance, short ribs braised in an herbaceous red wine bath or a tender rack of lamb dressed with an apple cider, ginger, and soy glaze. For diet-busting awesomeness, get the sopaipilla cheesecake, a cinnamon-topped, vanilla cream cheese-filled pastry.
Consider getting your own apron dirty in a cooking class (12 people max) at the Viking Cooking School in nearby Greenwood.
Where to Find It
Blue Levee: 1310 South Main Street, Rosedale, MS 38769; 662/759-6333. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday; reservations recommended. Entrées start at $11; beers are available, but bring your own wine and spirits.
Where it's located: In Rosedale, at the intersection of State 1 and State 8 in the Mississippi Delta, about an hour from Greenville and Clarksdale, two and a half hours southwest of Memphis
Nearest Interstate: I-55, 72 miles away
The Regulars: Locals sporting "Delta casual" (tailored sundresses and khakis instead of blue jeans) and out-of-town hunters in their deer camp finest (camouflage)
What's Next Door: Great River Road State Park, between the levee and the river, with great views of the Mighty Mississippi