Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Princeton Edition: Mitchem's Valley Country Restaurant

This little hole in the wall is located between Princeton and Bluefield, in an area called Green Valley. Growing up, this was a favorite of Chris's, and reminded him of earlier times. No offense to Chris, but he loves places that are "comfortable," as opposed to "good." This place packs some childhood memories for him, so I'll try not to be too harsh.

The restaurant, from the outside, looks kind of like a trailer. I would've assumed so, had I not known better. The only entrance, as far as I know, is a wheelchair ramp. There are a few picnic bench-like tables outside with an awning covering. When we went to open the door, a sign caught my eye that said they open at 6:45 a.m. By this point, I was putting two and two together: "Country" restaurant, wheelchair ramp, open at 6:45 a.m. This was old people city. But ... I'm okay with that. Old people restaurants can boast some of the best homemade comfort foods.


When we walked in, the place was larger than I imagined. There were at least three dining areas that I could see. We seated ourselves in the second section while I took in the scenery. A large TV was placed on the wall, and the typical patron was about three times my age. The third dining area seemed to be a Dale Earnhardt, Jr.Sr.(thank you, Chris, for lending me your redneck trivia) memorabilia room. I opted not to go back there.

As we perused the menu, it seemed pretty run of the mill - breakfast, chicken strips, some plated dinners. On their special board, they had "Fish-N-Chips" which caught my attention. I looked through the menu to see they had a fish sandwich for only $3.50. Now, this is where I take the blame. Some homestyle restaurants have killer fish sandwiches. For instance, I got one of the best Coleman's fish sandwiches at a little mom and pop shop. It's definitely a risk ordering fish at a non-specialty store. It's really hit or miss. In this case, it was a miss. A big miss. The square, once-frozen, fish byproduct left something to be desired. You know the taste - slightly freezer-burnt, crispy enough to not taste any flavor and mush of some odd fish flavor. It was probably an off-brand frozen fish chunk deep-fried.

For my sides, I got macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. Comfort food to the max, you can't really go too wrong. The macaroni and cheese had the pseudo-homemade look. Some of the noodles had cheese on them, while others were drenched in the oily butter sauce. The look threw me off a bit - I've made homemade mac & cheese before, but this worried me. The taste, however, was good. It doesn't have that powdered cheese like Kraft. There are some actual ingredients in there. The mashed potatoes were very good. Garlicy, creamy and delicious.

Chris chose a basket of shrimp. Typical, tiny popcorn shrimp breaded with tail still on. Not ideal for popcorn shrimp, since it makes it much more unpleasant to eat. He was pleased, though. He said he used to get chicken strips, which maybe I'll have to try for next time.

For dessert, I ordered a berry cobbler with ice cream. I'm not really sure what to say about this. At first, I was excited, but once I got down to the actual cobbler part, it was kind of a gelatinous texture that seemed very artificial. The edges were formed as if it had been in the corner piece of a pan and just molded there. The blueberries were a little not fresh, so it didn't leave the best aftertaste.

I think I need to try another dish - meatloaf or country chicken - to get the real feel for this restaurant. Because the fish sandwich just doesn't cut it.


Grade: D
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