Our friends Bob and Beth recommended that we visit Picket House, a unique restaurant located in Woodville, Texas. Woodville is just outside of nowhere, and not on the typical tourist trail, but it was on our route.
Picket House is part of a heritage village that gets mixed reviews, so we didn’t check it out. It’s located off the highway on a side road, easy to miss, but we found it on our 2nd pass. The old building is rustic outside and in, as if the clock has been turned back 80 years, but it’s clean and comfortable.
A sign at the entrance explains the “Boarding House Eatin’ Rules”. Patrons pay in advance ($10 each), are assigned a seat (which may be at a table shared with others if it’s busy), fix their own drinks, and clear their own dishes. Food is served family style and is ‘all you can eat’. Leftovers go to the hogs.
Although Picket House is often very busy, it wasn’t on Thursday at 1 PM when we arrived. There were only a few tables occupied, including one with a very old, frail, African-American woman eating alone wearing a hat. I was dying to talk to her but couldn’t get up the nerve. The walls of the two dining rooms are blanketed with old circus posters and the tables have checkered table clothes. The combination creates a unique and interesting atmosphere.
Our food was served quickly. We barely had enough time to get a glass of tea (a classic southern beverage served cold over ice, typically unsweetened), and some condiments (pickled jalapenos, beets, and watermelon rind). Neither Diane nor I had ever had pickled watermelon rind, and we had to ask the waitress what it was! The menu is the same every day – fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes and gravy, greens, beans, biscuits (with butter and optionally honey or cane syrup), coleslaw, peach cobbler, tea, and coffee. The fried chicken and the biscuits were exceptional.
I got my money’s worth. I ate:
- 6 pieces of fried chicken,
- 2 helpings of chicken and dumplings,
- 2 helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy,
- 1 helping of greens,
- 1 piece of corn bread,
- 1 and a half servings of peach cobbler,
- 3 pieces of pickled watermelon rind,
- 3 slices of pickled beets,
- 1 glass of sweet tea,
- and 3 biscuits with butter, 1 with cane syrup and honey
I may have overeaten. I couldn’t breathe fully for 2 hours afterwards without pain. I didn’t eat again until the next day.
Diane had a good time too, limiting herself to a mere 4 pieces of fried chicken.
Before we left, I met Brenda, one of the cooks. With her strong accent, she was hard to understand, but she was very friendly. Although she’s normally responsible for just the fried chicken, today one of the other staff called in sick, so she also made the biscuits (mmmm, biscuits) and the peach cobbler (mmmm, cobbler).
Picket house is heaven for southern hogs.