I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Corinth, Kentucky and Gaffney, South Carolina.
Occasionally things work out well for us here atop the endless asphalt seas. Like when we recently scored two great meals on two consecutive days! That’s such a rarity in boulevard boating that it’s destined to become enshrined in the Annals of Avenue Adventures or, at least, in the Daily Log Book at ISA (Interstate Absurdities) World Headquarters; Skippy sent a telegram.
The SS Me So Hungry had set sail from Indiana laden with 21 tons of 8 fl/oz bottles of Nesquik®. Why we were delivering the precious cargo of flavored milk to beer distributors in North Carolina seemed rather curious. But, hey, we’re not paid to come up with plausible explanations for life’s absurdities, just to drag crap around. Besides, we’ve seen ChocoVine.
On the first day of the cruise we stopped at Noble’s Truck Stop & Restaurant in Corinth, Kentucky. I don’t know how long this place has been here but it’s certainly been a long, long time and the place has seen better days. It was probably a busy truck stop at one time but is now reduced to about ten decrepit fuel islands, only two still equipped with pumps. I suspect that had I shown up in the dark of night I would’ve thought it was abandoned.
The restaurant is likewise old and funky, but it is clean and kind of cool. The waitresses wore old-school uniforms straight out of the ’60s and actually had matching teased-up platinum-blonde hair-dos. My waitress was really, really sweet and quickly described the special I wanted. They called it Glazed Chicken, and it came with two sides, a side salad and fried cornbread ($9.17 w/tax).
The Glazed Chicken was big chunks of breast meat in a kind of mushroom (not Cream of) sauce, served over white rice. Although it would’ve been more fun had it had more mushrooms, the stuff was really great. I just wish there had been a lot more of it.
For the sides I had fried zucchini in a light, greaseless batter, and white beans. Both of these were very good. The beans were really creamy and soulful though would have been better with some chunks of ham in them. The salad of iceberg lettuce and plenty of chunks of tomato was fresh and crispy.
The fried cornbread — properly it should be called johnnycakes or hoecakes — was particularly awesome. The two cakes were about the size of small- to average-sized pancakes and, with a little mock-butter and a drizzle of honey, were pure heaven. As I was eating them I kept thinking they have a lot in common with plain (unfilled) papusas.
Although the place isn’t visible from Interstate 75 — I found it only because it was listed on the exit information sign — there were trucks coming and going all day long, the drivers coming strictly for the food. I could see why. This place was a real find. In all it was quite a classic, satisfying Southern soul food meal.
The next day we landed in Gaffney, South Carolina, a port we’ve been to many times. You know you’ve arrived in Gaffney when you see the Peachoid, the giant, beautifully painted, somewhat erotic — don’t tell the South Carolinians lest they tear it down — peach-shaped water tower.
I’d seen the Clock of Gaffney Restaurant before but had never eaten there. I was always too tired or too lazy or it was too hot to walk to from the nearby Pilot truck stop. That day, however, we were able to ditch the box (trailer) and bobtail around. The specials they were flogging on the electronic readerboard that day were Lasagna and Salad for $8.50 and Meatloaf and Two Sides for $6.99. Meatloaf sounded pretty good and the parking lot was surprisingly empty at the time, so in we went.
I ordered the Meatloaf, with lima beans and mashed potatoes and gravy for the sides. It also came with a roll or cornbread, which I opted for.
The meatloaf was incredible. Flavorful and moist, the serving was two giant slices nearly an inch thick that filled the entrée section of the styrofoam to-go box. The mashed potatoes were also incredible, really creamy with a delightful buttery flavor, and topped with a pretty decent brown gravy. While the lima beans were really good, they naturally fell just a little short; every time I get lima beans I’m hoping they’ll be as good as the butter beans at Jackson’s Soul Food Kitchen, which ain’t gonna happen.
The cornbread was also really great. When I asked the waitress if I could get a couple of pieces she asked, “Is that going to be enough?” Throw another one in there, I said, and she did. Sadly, they had no honey, but the sweetness of the waitress kind of made up for it.
While I was waiting for my order I noticed that one of the soups of the day was Potato. Because I love good potato soup I ordered a bowl ($3.50?). The soup was really tasty though I thought it could’ve used more chunks of potato and some good bits of bacon. I also thought that with those additions they could’ve went ahead and thrown in a bunch of chopped clams, ending up with one hell of a great New England style clam chowder.
As they were packing up my booty I kept looking at all the incredibly tempting cakes they had rotating hypnotically in the merry-go-round dessert case. I couldn’t figure out one of them. It was some sort of ceramic container. I kept wondering: What could possibly be in it? Is it just for decoration, sort of a space filler or what? Regardless, I thought it was remarkably beautiful, a masterwork of clay and kiln.
It turned out it wasn’t a ceramic piece at all: It was a freakin’ New York style cheesecake about four inches high with a four-inch-high dome of chocolate mousse on top, frosted on the side with mousse, and decorated with a swirly design of chocolate! Oh. My. God. While everything in the dessert case looked incredible, this one was absolutely stunning.
The waitress told me they bake all of the desserts in-house every couple of days and that the Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake ($4.15/slice plus tax) is so popular that it lasts barely a day before it’s gone. Okay, I said, I better have a slice.
I felt guilty as I watched the magnificent cake being cut into. It was like watching a priceless work of art being vandalized, me standing by cowardly without intervening. I was also bummed because I wasn’t smart enough to run out and grab the camera and get a picture before it was … Oh, the humanity!
The cheesecake was every bit as exquisite as it looked, and so rich and the slice so large that it took me four sittings to finish it.
I’ll definitely be returning to both of these restaurants when the opportunities arise. Especially the Clock of Gaffney. You see, Gaffney is a frequent port of call and they’ve finally finished building the QT directly across the street, a place where a guy can land a yacht. Yea!
And so we roll.
Noble’s Truck Stop & Restaurant, I-75 Exit 144, 1065 Owenton Road, Corinth, Kentucky
Clock of Gaffney Restaurant, I-85 Exit 90, 930 Hyatt Street, Gaffney, South Carolina
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.