Important Notice to my Texas Readers:
IF YOU ARE DRIVING AROUND EAST TEXAS AND SEE THIS BUILDING, STOP!
PARK THE CAR, GO INSIDE AND EAT.
If I sound surprised, it isn’t that I don’t like tiny towns. For the record, I love them. But there are some things that one simply doesn’t expect to find in tiny East Texas towns:
12-screen movie theaters.
High-end jewelry stores.
In my many travels around East Texas, I’ve pretty much found this last one to be set in stone. You can get something to eat just about anywhere, but in the littlest towns you might be limited to convenience-store fare from the gas station. This is the culinary equivalent of a high-school football game concession stand, only without the awesome Band Booster fresh-grilled hamburgers.
The next-bigger hamlets may have a DQ. More populous burgs might even offer healthy options — namely, the veggie counter at SubWay. Indie places, in my experience, usually feature barbecue and little else.
So when hunger hit me as I drove along State Hwy 31, I wasn’t too optimistic. Then I remembered a place called “D’Barn” had recently opened in Murchison. Maybe—just maybe—I could find something there that wasn’t batter-fried or gravied. Bracing myself for Formica and metal, I went in.
What’s this? Real, polished wood dining tables with comfy upholstered chairs invited me to sit down and make myself at home. A gracious staff member named Crystal greeted me, which I almost didn’t hear because I was so taken aback by the beautiful interior. She brought me water, sweet tea and a menu.
And what a menu. Unique, imaginative sandwiches filled two pages. Then there were the entrees. Steak, chicken and even seafood were all represented. And yes, you can get a chicken-fried steak. The point is, you don’t have to. Torn between two or three (maybe more) sandwiches, I finally chose one. Crystal helped me with my selections, offering to bring the jalapeños on the side so I could try them. I don’t recall which sandwich I settled on, but it tasted delightful. Even the jalapeños, which I scarfed.
While I was eating, a young guy in a white jacket came into the dining room from the back. He stopped to speak with each of the guests, asking how we were enjoying the food. Crystal told me it was Michael, the kitchen manager / chef. Again, this sort of attention is very much NOT a part of a typical small-town dining experience.
Pretty soon Crystal came back and offered dessert. They all sounded so wonderful that I bought one to take home to Brent. Seriously, you can’t imagine how perfect this place is. At home, I raved about it to Brent while arm-wrestling him for the last bite of dessert.
Weeks later we were driving through Murchison with our older son, Eric. Coincidentally, all of us were hungry for dinner, so we stopped by D’Barn. Eric had the chicken-fried steak. The first bite impressed him to a round-eyed silence followed by rapid and efficient eating. I went out on a limb and ordered poached fish over rice, with an orange cream sauce. Brent had a grilled steak which he proclaimed excellent.
Dang, that was good fish. It even came with sautéed fresh spinach, my favorite veggie.
Now I’m hooked, an addict drooling over the hot sandwiches and poached fish haunting my daydreams. The least I can do is share the addiction. But be careful — Michael is always branching out with new, adventurous dishes.
As near as I can figure, it isn’t just the great food that makes D’Barn stand out. The staff all seem to share a sense of adventure, gusto and plain ol’ loving what they do.
All this just goes to show, it’s worth while to explore local indie places. Also, don’t make fun of tiny Texas towns because you just never know.
Hm. I may have to go through Murchison more often….
Thanks for reading!
PS: I’m no restaurant reviewer, but I couldn’t resist bragging on such a great place even if it is more than an hour and a half from home. FaceBook users, click here to find D’Barn. And if you go, tell them the poached-fish addict sent you.
I’m linking up this week with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria girls.