by Kara Kimbrough
After hearing from readers last week that a visit to the petrified forest was imminent, I realized there are many Mississippi treasures yet to be experienced. For starters, nearly 10 of our state parks have made the top 100 best parks ranking from among 4,000 similar parks nationwide. Scenic Percy Quin State Park in McComb is on the list of the best state parks in the nation. Pairing it with a visit to a nearby restaurant, The Caboose, is the perfect day or weekend trip.
For history buffs, it’s interesting to note that Percy Quin is one of the original state parks cleared and constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Today, beautiful flowers and magnolia trees, Loblolly pines and Lake Tangipahoa are surrounded by scenic rolling hills. Sounding like the brochure for an all-inclusive resort, Percy Quin offers an 18-hole golf course, picnic pavilions, pool, tennis courts, game room, laundry, conference center and fishing and boating.
After a long day of activities, it’s convenient to grill burgers or steaks at the park or better yet, take the short drive in to McComb and let someone else cook. There’s no better place to enjoy a relaxing dinner than at The Caboose, located in an historic building in the downtown depot district.
One thing to remember: if you visit for dinner, you’ll need to change out of casual clothes before you go. After dark, the lights are dimmed and white tablecloths set the stage for a beautiful dining room. The Caboose offers a fine dining experience offering cuisine rivaling almost anything found in larger cities.
The Caboose is known for its steaks, so I’ll start with one of the main reasons the restaurant has gained a loyal following from locals and visitors. First up are hand-cut and grilled eight and 12-ounce ribeyes. Cooked to your specifications, it’s a steak worthy of a trip from the park or almost anywhere.
Other popular cuts include the 16-ounce New York strip, 10-ounce melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon, and the true steak-lover’s 28-ounce bone-in ribeye.
Choose from among side dishes like au gratin potatoes, asparagus hollandaise, onion rings, twice-baked potato and creamed spinach to create a memorable meal you won’t soon forget.
Or begin your meal with creative appetizers such as New Orleans style barbecued shrimp with garlic bread, crab cakes with remoulade sauce, char-grilled oysters or flash-fried shrimp or catfish and sauteed mushrooms. One I can’t wait to try is house-made potato chips drizzled with caramelized onions and bleu cheese. If that doesn’t sound appetizing, I’m not sure what does.
The Caboose is also known for its creative pasta dishes and fresh seafood. Specialty dishes include Creole seafood pasta, seared sesame seed and black pepper crusted Ahi tuna steak, cedar plank roasted wild salmon with horseradish crust, shrimp, crawfish and crabmeat over fresh fettuccini and char grilled grouper, among others.
Even more seafood can be enjoyed courtesy of dishes like flash-fried Mississippi catfish, Maine Lobster, fried oysters and shrimp and seafood platter.
Pair your meal with one of The Caboose’s variety of fresh salads or soup or simply enjoy a light meal made from the freshest ingredients.
If you visit The Caboose for lunch, the atmosphere is more laid-back and casual. Offerings include many of the same salads and soups, with additions like creative sandwiches and daily specials ranging from red beans and rice with sausage to chicken fried steak with gravy and potatoes.
If You Go:
Percy Quin State Park
Where: 2036 Percy Quin Drive, McComb
Contact: 601.684.3938 to make a reservation or check out the website, email@example.com.
Note: Some cabins and RV sites currently do not have grills. For more information, please call the park office.
Where: 131 N. Front Street, McComb
When: Lunch is served Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; dinner hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 to 8 p.m.; until 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.