Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 11. Welcome To Cherokee. Oy.

On the way from Marion to Cherokee, I saw this disturbing billboard.
This is the sign at Harrah's Cherokee. Heh. They spelled y'all wrong.
All right. The siren call was too great. I could not NOT go.
Here's Harrah's Casino.
No enticement here. The Hawthornes are not gamblers. We have other vices we enjoy.
I liked this little fire pit. Cozy. OK. The Hawthornes did it. We went to Pauler's Kitchen. Shut up. Did you ever doubt that we wouldn't?
Before you get to Pauler's Kitchen, you must first navigate the gift shop - Paula Deen's Kitchen Store.
Check it out. The Deen Machine at work. In high gear. Pauler's photo-shopped face and name is plastered on EVERY item.
The line is forming at the hostess's station.
Paula's cookbooks are conveniently located right next to the line.
No tilapia for us, thank you. Ever since Mr. Hawthorne saw a program on TV about farm-raised salmon, he's refused to eat tilapia. When the salmon are harvested, the tilapia are put into the water to clean up the leftover excrement of the salmon. Now, I like tilapia and I don't have a problem with this. I don't understand why Mr. Hawthorne does, since he loves both crabs and oysters. A crab is nothing but a bottom feeder and no telling what it's eaten lately. And an oyster is nothing but one big organ that processes God-knows-what. But Mr. Hawthorne has a problem, so no tilapia.
Honestly, this is one of the lowest ratings I've seen.
Here's a peak inside Paula Deen's Kitchen. The 404-seat restaurant features an a la carte breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is part of a more than $630 million expansion.
We were immediately seated, even as a party of forty was being seated ahead of us.
The menu:
Appetizers, soups and salads, and sandwiches.
Steaks, Southern Comforts, Seafood. Click here for the MENU. I ordered the Caesar Salad for $6 and the Fried Oyster Appetizer for $10, described as 6 Lightly Breaded Gulf Oysters with a Roasted Tomato Remoulade and a Tartar Sauce. Mr. Hawthorne decided to go with Paula's signature dishes. He ordered the Cornmeal Crusted Catfish for $13. This came with Tartar Sauce and a choice of two side dishes. Mr. Hawthorne chose the Mac and Cheese and Collards.
We ordered at 6:20. Our drinks were promptly brought to us and yes, I got my five pieces of lemon.
Nice window seat with view of the water.
While waiting for our meals to arrive, I decided to check out the buffet. $19 for the buffet. I hate a buffet, but I wanted to go check it out. Sorry for the picture quality, but I'm trying to shoot between people's shoulders while they're having food shoveled onto their plates. Frankly, the only thing I'd eat from the buffet would be the prime rib. The prime rib did look good. That's it in the background.
Next up, two pasta dishes. The one on the left had a cream sauce; the one on the right had a tomato sauce. Other than that, can't say much else.
Collards, I think, on the right. The other four, no can tell. Unrecognizable.
Meatloaf with a cheese sauce? Grilled chicken. Fried chicken.
Looks like a succotash on the right. The rest, I'm not sure. I'll pass, happily, on the buffet. When I have a vegetable, I like it crisp/tender and fresh. I don't like it when it's been sitting for hours. Now, remember, I'm heading into Pauler Deen's restaurant and I'm ready to burn her a new one. We'd ordered at 6:20. Our meals arrived at 6:42.
Here's Mr. Hawthorne's cornmeal crusted catfish, tartar sauce, and mac and cheese. The batter was extremely light. The fish delicate. Mr. Hawthorne said the crust was unique. Not greasy at all. The only fault he found was that the fish could have been thicker. I'm not a fan particularly of mac and cheese, but this was creamy and cheesy and Mr. Hawthorne enjoyed it.
Better view of the mac and cheese. Would've like something green on the plate itself, but that's just us. I like a colorful presentation, not monochromatic. Oh wait. There was a lemon wedge.
Collard greens and ham. Pretty good. Not as good as ours, but good. And I loves me some collards.
You know how I am about a Caesar Salad. The Caesar Salad says a lot about a restaurant. The dressing was good. Very good. Creamy dressing. Not as good as mine. Actually different. But still, very good. I appreciated the liberal addition of croutons. Homemade would have been nice, but these were good.
Now, for the oysters. Lightly breaded. Lightly fried. These were excellent. I couldn't have done better myself. Do you have any idea how it freaking PAINS me to write that? I liked the tartar sauce. No sweetness. Perfectly tart. I liked the roasted tomato remoulade which had a hint of chipotle, I think. Also, on the menu, the description of the oysters said six oysters. I had ten. Rosie is happy.
I loved how the oysters were served - on a bed of deep-fried collards. Leave it to Paula to take a Southern staple and deep-fry it. Bottom line, I liked the collards. They were a beautiful bright green color and were crunchy, like parchment. And they tasted like collards. I'll be deep-frying collards now. We had a damn good meal at Pauler's. There. I said it. I'd go back in a heartbeat for the fried oysters. Have I lost what little bit of credibility I had left? Bottom line - the price for dinner was $40.48 including tip, AND, get this: It includes a $2.48 TRIBAL LEVY charge. I told you, the Cherokee Nation is a nation unto itself. Check out your receipts in Cherokee and there will be a tribal levy charge on each one. GO Cherokee!
No. I didn't buy anything in Pauler's 1800 square-foot Kitchen Store. Rosie has to draw the line somewhere. She must maintain a modicum of dignity.
God help me. Next thing you know, I'll be getting tickets for this. I need an intervention.


tortietat said...

No, Rosie, you haven't lost your credibility.....takes a lot of grit to admit you liked something when you were fully prepared to find fault with it. Proud of you for resisting the kitchen store items. I make it a rule not to buy anything with Pauler or Retchel's photo on it, but did break that rule recently when I saw a nice heavy Pauler skillet on the clearance rack for less than half price because of a little scratch.

Marion said...

DAMMIT, Rosie, how could you not get me a Pauler lunch box? And with my birthday coming up? I'm crushed, crushed, I tell you.

Anonymous said...

Rosie - Paula would be proud if you liked not one, but two entrees there. I am surprised it was that good, and that you admitted it!

Marilyn said...

Rosie, it took guts to admit that you liked Pauler's recipes. At least you can take comfort in the fact that she wasn't the one back in the kitchen cooking the food.

Wonder Schwermin said...

There's a reason Pauler got plucked up from the countless good southern cooks (RH included...) Girlfriend knows how to dish it out. Now, I think Pauler is a hideous stereotype of southern women (from whom I was spawned....) but she does know what she's about in the kitchen, and has a very good business manger and agent.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you had a good experience at Paula's restaurant. She really has turned into a caricature. We ate at Lady and Sons several years ago when we were in Savannah and really enjoyed the experience and the food. It was the busiest and most organized restaurant we have ever been to. Enjoy the rest of your trip!