Pie in Northern Arkansas
I posted this report on another part of the forum, but this may be a better place for it, so I'll re-post here:
I just got back from Batesville (early May 05), which is 100 or so miles east of the Branson and lake area, in northern Arkansas. For several years my mother has been telling me about wonderful freshly made coconut cream pie, and this time I finally got to the little cafe that serves it along with numerous other freshly made pies. The place is called Cindy's, and it is in a tiny town called Mt. Pleasant, about 15 miles north of Batesville. I was told that it is run by two women who bake all the pies. They had about a dozen varieties the day I was there, including the coconut cream and chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, several types of apple, custard, and something called "sawdust pie" which was described as containing "raisins and coconut and stuff." I actually chose the fresh blackberry cobbler, which was outstanding, and my mother had the chocolate peanut butter pie, which of course I also sampled -- very smooth, creamy, topped with real whipped cream. The crust was excellent. They do have a regular menu but we didn't try anything, except for a grilled cheese sandwich because I needed something salty to cut all the sweetness. The blackboard special was chicken fried steak that day.
There's no sign on the restaurant, just one of those obnoxious boards by the road with lights that blink at night and point to the place, so it would be easy to pass if you weren't looking for it -- on the other hand, I don't think there could be many other eating establishments around town, so if you look closely, you will find it, with a parking lot filled with pickup trucks.
Another good pie place is called Joshua's in Mountain View (not to be confused with Mountain Home). We went there last year and I had the chocolate peanut butter pie, also outstanding.
Incidentally, the best non-pie food I know of in that area can be found at Meacham's (also known as B.J.'s) in Ash Flat, about 40 miles north of Batesville. I have written about it elsewhere on these forums but just now couldn't find the link -- At any rate, the family who runs it used to have a meat market in Batesville and they use top-quality meats and cook them expertly. On this past visit I had one large pork chop with butter sauce(couldn't finish it), which came with freshly steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes, and I always order a side of beautiful large sauteed brown mushrooms. My mother had fried chicken livers, fresh and soft on the inside with just a light, crunchy coating. If you go for breakfast and get there early enough they serve enormous biscuits (again, one is more than I can eat, since I've also ordered that big side of mushrooms). They only make biscuits once a day so they do run out. They have about half a dozen specials every day in addition to a pretty long list of menu items. I've never had dessert there because I'm always too stuffed.
Ash Flat is just a few miles north of the real Evening Shade -- remember the TV show? They used to have a big billboard picture of Burt Reynolds, but it finally faded and was taken down. Meacham's is on Highway 62, about 1/4 mile west of the intersection with Highway 167. This restaurant was in the first edition of Roadfood, I believe, but hasn't been included in recent updates. The Sterns need to get some scouts down in that area to bring everyone up to date.
If you plan to go to that area I would recommend either calling ahead to make sure these places are open, or going from Tuesday through Saturday. Some of these restaurants may be closed on Sunday or Monday (although I know that Meacham's/BJ's is open on Sunday).