By Julian Brunt
The Deep South is famous for some pretty interesting and unique establishments. Sometimes it’s the locally owned gas station that also sells amazing cheeseburgers or po’boys. If it’s a music venue and bar, then it just might be a famous juke joint. And if it’s just a bar, then we might call it a dive. But there’s one place in the Mississippi Delta that covers all the bases and, in my opinion, is the coolest hang out in the state.
The Blue Biscuit is in Indianola, one of my favorite Delta towns. It’s a small town with just 12,000 good souls, and one of those good souls was B.B. King, the King of the Blues. The museum dedicated to his career is just across the street from the Blue Biscuit and draws thousands of visitors from around the world. The museum is one of the reason the Blue Biscuit is as cool as it is. You are just as likely to meet someone from Australia there as you are a Delta farmer or local attorney. It’s a customer mix like no other place around.
The Blue Biscuit is a well-attended local bar, a famous music venue, specializing in Delta blues, has a good size dance floor and a great restaurant. So, no matter what you are in the mood for, hanging out with friends, or sampling some great Delta pulled pork, this is the spot.
Trish Berry is the owner and chef and man oh man, does she have credentials. Not only was she a friend of B.B.’s, but she was also Morgan Freeman's personal chef for years. You won't find a more qualified chef around.
Her menu is extensive and includes a great selection of starters, like fried green tomatoes and a seafood tower, house made barbecue on nachos and even stunningly good onion rings. This place is famous for over-the-top Delta favorites, including 72-hour pulled pork, some innovative burgers, Delta catfish, pasta and fresh seafood.
There are a lot of reasons so many people hang out at the Blue Biscuit, but one of my reasons is this place has mojo! Besides the very cool atmosphere, absolutely every time I go, something unique happens that I think could only happen in the Delta.
I was visiting with my friend Cyan James, a geneticist from Washington, sitting at the bar with a group of local farmers sitting next to us. Cyan started to giggle and I asked what was so funny and she said, "I can't understand a word they are saying." A little while later someone said is matter of fact way, "There sure is a lot of corn on the road." Cyan was again mystified and I had to explain that the corn harvest was on and the trucks that hauled the corn to the silos dropped some on the corn on the bumpy roads, so yellow corn along the side of the road is a common sight in the fall.
I once heard a farmer telling his friends that as a child, he had shot an already dead cow, and several possums scampered away, exiting through her hind end. I laughed so hard I had to leave or risk the farmer not appreciating the humor I saw in his story.
Every time I go to the Blue Biscuit, sometimes after the sun goes down, I order a bourbon and water and walk across the street and have a drink with B. B. at his grave site. I am a huge fan, and it is an honor to visit him and share a drink.
There is an old cotton gin next door, with rusted silos like guard towers, that add to the atmosphere, and almost every time I am there, I can hear a freight train in the distance. I always think of Ben Harper singing, "Lord, I am a fool for a lonesome train." It’s another magical moment.
There is also a lovely bayou behind the Blue Biscuit that makes for a beautiful walk. Craig Claiborne, perhaps the most famous New York Times food critic was raised just a few blocks away, and a walk by his house to see the historical marker is another must. Indianola is about as Old South as can be. The people are friendly, it’s a pretty little town in the old neighborhoods and there just isn't another place that is as cool as the Blue Biscuit. Tell Trish I sent you.