Last Monday we left Arkansas for home and along the way we stopped at Country Bob's Cafe
in St. James, Missouri. I originally learned about it online but did notice a few I-44 billboards in the vicinity of St. James and Rolla.
I think this is the "main" dining area, with additional space in another room as the menu claims space for 148 patrons.
The aforementioned billboards specifically display fried chicken so I already knew what I was going to order. CB's chicken has a light coating that I can't decisively claim is batter, breading, or maybe even just flour, and being a little woozy from the road I didn't think to ask about it or the cooking method. Could it possibly be pan-fried? Regardless, it had a mild, "cooked skin" flavor without too much seasoning and the chicken inside was fine.
I had the option of a 4-piece dinner with 2 sides or a 2-piece lunch plate with 3 sides (a "meat and three"?) and I opted for the latter with beans, mashed potatoes and gravy (when I said "mashed" the waitress said "white or brown?"), and cottage cheese. The beans were pretty good due to the added bacon and I really liked the gravy.
Mrs. Chicken opted for catfish, which was apparently breaded with radioactive cornmeal. I sampled it and we agreed that it was very good: light, flaky, and not at all fishy. I didn't sample the hushpuppies but she told me that they weren't too heavy on the onion. The daughter ordered an unphotographed bowl of chili (with beans) and said that it was fine; it certainly looked thick and flavorful.
The original choice for dessert was lemon meringue pie but the waitress said that the entire pie had been sold earlier that day, so the backup choice was sawdust. I'm not familiar with this type but apparently the filling consists mainly of shredded coconut and some sweet stuff, and while Mrs. C said it tasted good (when eaten later that night) she found it to be a bit dry...not that the name "sawdust" should be any sort of giveaway.
Country Bob's is a popular spot and most of the other earlybird diners seemed to be regulars. It's only been around since 2009 but seems to have already established a good reputation, and I wouldn't mind stopping there again. They do have a BPT on the menu...