When in the South your diet be damned.
Unless your diet consists of stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, that is. No other place in the country injects more soul and heritage into their cuisine than the southern states.
Greens are rich in bacon fat and salty pork belly rinds. Pies are heavy with lard and sugar. The fried chicken will leave you scratching your head how they crammed so much mouthwatering flavor into a little sliver of tender.
It was legendary fried chicken that led us to the doorstep of Page’s Okra Grill in Mt. Pleasant, SC. The locals clamored for it and the waterside location called to us.
Why in the world would we go to the Lowcountry of South Carolina and not eat seafood, a land of plenty when it comes to oysters on the half shell and fish fresh from the ocean?
Because everyone comes here for the seafood. For us, it had been years since last sinking our teeth into a hearty and heart-warming plate of southern.
The time had come.
True to fashion, a burger was where our culinary compass aimed. Yet there in the middle of the menu sat the humble Chicken and Waffles. Diverted off course, we made our choice.
By now most people have heard of it. Thick Belgian waffles combined with savory fried chicken and topped with syrup and butter. The best is in Durham, NC at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles and until now nothing had even come close.
At Paige’s things are done differently. The waffle batter is chock full of sausage, corn and jalapenos giving it a hint of savory spiciness. The boneless chicken that accompanies it is brined for 24 hours and pressure cooked giving it a surprising tenderness. Not too salty, not too spicy the coating was perfect.
This was southern fried chicken professionally done. It was perfection.
Don’t let us lie to you, we also got the burger. How could we not? The daunting thought of a mouth blistering burger called the “Hell Burger” brought us back to the best burger we ever had at Ray’s Hell Burger in D.C.
Unfortunately, this burger didn’t burn as advertised. The jalapenos were diced and slathered on the bottom bun like a fiery relish and the ghost pepper cheese barely had a kick.
While not as punishing as it could have been, it was still a good burger.
We may have bucked the trend by going to the city of sweet grass baskets and shucked seafood and looking for fried chicken but do we regret it? Not a chance.
There are no regrets when it comes to southern food.
Page’s Okra Grill is open daily for breakfast and dinner. Check their website for hours as they vary seasonally. Shrimp and grits will change your life so order it here for an epiphany.