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In 1954 Lee and Pup McCarty began what was to become an award winning pottery business. The McCarty's are recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and have had their work shown in museums and galleries around the world.
The restaurant began as a courtesy to travelers because there were no other restaurants in the area – after all Merigold is only a town of slightly over 500 people. Cypress boards from the now demolished Wooten plantation in nearby Shelby enclose the restaurant on all sides making the restaurant a delightful lunch or afternoon tea spot deep in the Delta. Lee’s godson, Steven Smith, now runs the restaurant and still serves two different entrées daily, a cold dish and a hot dish served on pottery dinnerware, of course. Meals begin with an appetizer of fresh figs stuffed with cream cheese or liver pâté and cucumber slice on a triangle of pumpernickel bread. Alongside a cornbread muffin, a cup of homemade vegetable soup follows soon thereafter containing the freshest veggies plucked out of the nearby garden. The garden has plants with sentimental value like shallots from Pup’s home in Ethel, crepe myrtles that originally bordered the mule lot and a fig tree from Thomas Jefferson’s gardens. The cold dish is always their homemade chicken salad, made daily with apples, celery and grapes served with cold summer green beans, Merigold tomatoes and fruit. The hot plate varies depending on season and whim but is anything from meatloaf or chicken or shrimp crepes covered in a white wine cream sauce with a side of Spinach Sunflower, which is creamed spinach, and Merigold tomatoes. The Merigold Tomatoes dish is a baked tomato casserole topped with cheese and although it is a secret recipe, Steven tells people, “Just try it,” and they fall in love with it. Many a chef clamors for the recipe but much to his or her disappointment, mum’s the word. Be sure to call to make lunch reservations, especially on the weekends.
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