As I mentioned yesterday, I went looking for Little Chef in Stuttgart, only to find that progress had taken it out. Well, it was close to the noon hour and I’d skipped breakfast. Lunch was in order. I headed downtown and found the first place that looked interesting. That place was the Country Gossip. With a little lot packed with cars and people parking behind the business, it had to be pretty good.
Walked in and stood there for a few minutes. The lunch rush had hit hard, and the few waitresses in the place were busy cleaning off tables and taking orders. I walked through the restaurant’s three rooms looking for a spot. My waitress asked if I’d mind sitting at a dirty table for a minute. She seemed very busy, so I agreed.
Took her a moment to get back over to me. Another woman across the way was also waiting in the same situation. Our waitress came through, quickly wiped down both tables and got us beverages.
The restaurant’s definitely one of those local places you don’t hear about elsewhere. There are wipe boards with the daily special and a one page laminated menu on the table. The menu boasts a lot of cold prepared foods, like chicken and tuna salad, pimento cheese sandwiches, a Reuben (of course) and salads. There was also a listing for soup of the day and for a baked potato. I made my selections and waited just a few minutes for the waitress to catch up and make it back over to the table.
The tea she brought was fresh brewed. She took the order of the woman at the other table, ran it back and came and got mine. I asked for a pimento cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup, and she told me I’d have a much better deal if I went for a Light Lunch ($4.75 for a large bowl of soup or salad, $3.75 for a small one). I agreed. She saved me some money -- the large bowl of soup runs $3.75 and the sandwich $3.
I watched as she made trip after trip to the kitchen, bringing four guys at a nearby table their Chef’s Salads, taking the order of a small family and bringing a Pasta Salad to the woman across from me. I munched on a pack of Captain’s Wafers while waiting… there’s a big basket of crackers at each and every table.
And here came my lunch -- half an over-packed pimento cheese sandwich and a large bowl of Creamy Potato soup. The soup was a little less creamy than I expected but full of chunks of potato, carrot and onion. It was nicely warming for the surprisingly cold day. And it was big. It came out in an over-sized soup bowl.
The sandwich (on wheat; white’s the other option) contained the pimento cheese salad, one big leaf of green leaf lettuce and mayonnaise. The pimento cheese had a somewhat sweet flavor to it. It utilized American cheese instead of Cheddar, had lots of bits of pimento in it and tiny slices of pickle. There was a bit more of the cheese mix than could fit on the sandwich, but that’s all right. I don’t mind a little extra Arkansas gold.
I had other assignments to tackle for the day, so I skipped dessert. But I almost reneged while standing at the register. A table right next to the counter had ordered up dessert, big tall squares of yellow cake with what appeared to be a homemade chocolate frosting. Desserts change daily and run $1.50.
Does the Country Gossip stand up to the memory of Little Chef? Apples to oranges. By the time I got out of Country Gossip (about 12:45) it had emptied out. It’s definitely one of those local lunch stands that’s virtually unknown outside of town. The food I had was good, but the menu is far less comprehensive. That’s not a fault; I doubt any restaurant could come right in and take over. It is what it is.
You’ll find the Country Gossip at 100 South Main Street in Stuttgart, right by the railroad tracks. The number is (870) 673-6115.