The Restaurant Sampler
Bean Blossom Inn
I am a native of Brown County, a place where visitors are always coming and always looking for good places to eat. But, from time to time, I give in to my travel urges and find myself in foreign locales as varied and excitingly mysterious as Hillsboro, Indiana or Scottsboro, Alabama.
But when I am embarked on touring various destination settings, I can never fully set aside my keenly trained instincts and observational powers; and so, I find I must seek out dining experiences.
And when I walk out into a strange town in search of yet another peak dining experience, I ask myself this one simple question:
“Where do locals eat?”
You see, no matter what sort of whimsical theme restaurants or far-flung fast-food empires may be in place awaiting my gustatory investigation, the smart bet is always going to be on the place where all of the pick-up trucks are parked early in the morning.
Where will you find authentic, home cooked fare, good coffee and “breakfast anytime”?
Well, where do the phone men, the highway men and the ambulance drivers and other service vans congregate? Where does your contractor go when the job is half done?
Find them, and you will find a place worth eating at—not just once, but over and over again.
And since I live up in the northern end of Indiana’s most-visited county and often drive to the county seat in Nashville, I have learned that just such an eatery is Brownie’s Bean Blossom Inn, located just north of beautiful downtown Bean Blossom on State Road 135 north.
The restaurant has been there many years—you may still hear some older locals refer to it as “Robbins Drive-In”—and through many incarnations. But two years ago it received new management and a total makeover that improved facilities and food, bringing new interest to an old roadside friend.
Although lunchtime is packed and dinners are excellent, the heart and soul of the place is to be found on a weekday morning, when the aforementioned working men and women gather for coffee, words of daily wisdom and humor, and a first-rate breakfast capable of getting any day off to a good start.
Regular readers of these columns will be aware of my implacable fondness for biscuits and sausage gravy, and Brownie’s do not disappoint. Add a tall glass of cool milk and a warm cup of coffee and your good day has begun.
Of course, you can have eggs any way and hash browns or fried potatoes. Or you can tie into the “BBIR Breakfast Special”—two eggs any way, your choice of sausage, bacon or ham and one pancake.
It is not considered impolite at Brownie’s to overhear the conversation of your fellow diners and even to comment on it. However, it being a political season and all, let’s let discretion be the better part of dining valor.
Still, the easy give-and take of regular patrons and employees alike make the dining experience friendlier and more “down home” in nature.
Of course, there’s a lot more going on at Brownie’s than breakfast.
The café has excellent fare for lunch, including the ubiquitous black Angus beef hamburgers, and good-sized hand-breaded tenderloins on a big bun that rival any in the county—no matter what you may have seen in the state, regional and national media.
Sandwiches are served with chips and a good dill pickle; or you can add French fries or any of a number of sides including cole slaw, salads and veggie choices.
For a relaxed, casual-dining experience with food just like mom used to make, it’s hard to beat the dinner specials at Brownie’s Bean Blossom Inn.
There are two specials each evening with certain meals always available on certain days.
For example, Tuesday nights feature a choice of an excellent country fried steak or salmon patties, each with two sides including mashed potatoes, veggie of the day and a roll.
Friday night offers an all-you-can-eat catfish dinner with French fries, hush puppies and cole slaw.
Also on Friday nights—a sirloin steak dinner with which you can get not only a baked potato, but a baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar (Fridays and Saturdays only).
And it really wouldn’t be Sunday in southern Indiana without a fried chicken dinner after Sunday church services. Brownie‘s has a delightful offering with the usual sides.
And if you aren’t a fried chicken fan (“What’s WRONG with you, boy?”) there’s also an excellent meatloaf dinner on Sundays.
The restaurant offers a “Little People’s Menu” for children, and kids are encouraged to clean their plates so that they may pick a “treasure” out of the treasure box.
There’s also a little treasure on the menu for big folks who clean their plates—pies.
Brownie’s Bean Blossom Inn offers a wide variety of utterly wonderful, homemade pies, hand-made, my careful research reveals, by local crust and filling maven Wilma Bunch.
Whether it’s coconut cream or red raspberry pie, rhubarb or blackberry cobbler or an interesting and unique “Mexican Fruitcake” pie, the desserts are worth the drive to Bean Blossom.
And, sitting there in that little dining place made special by years and years of good food and good talk; of neighbors sharing home-cooked style meals; of visitors getting a real taste of what Brown Countians really eat; after you have had a good cup of coffee and a good piece of hand-made pie following a good meal of simple yet filling fare, I feel perfectly certain that you will find yourself profoundly satisfied.