Glory be, what a meal! The grill-cooked chicken is crazy-tender, moist and full-flavored, some of the best anywhere. The mac ‘n’ cheese is soft comfort food; the collard greens are plenty porky but only barely bitter. The cornbread is shockingly unsweet but huge-flavored with a buttery buttermilk tang.
Buttermilk pie: one of the great dessert discoveries of 2016. For one thing, I got this slice still slightly warm from the oven. For another, the crust (bought elsewhere) is crisp and flaky, as good to eat as an elegant cookie. The filling is egg-rich and beguilingly tangy. Oh, and the topping? That is whipped cream, as in cream that has been whipped. No improvement is possible.
Angry Meat Loaf
The item listed on the menu as ‘Angry Meatloaf,” is dressed with spicy-hot jalapeno ketchup. Also, mustard, mayo, pepperjack cheese, lettuce and garden-fresh slices of tomato. The meat loaf itself is very juicy and expertly seasoned. It is great on a plate with nothing but mashed potatoes on the side.
Hash on Rice
Hash on rice, a South Carolina staple, is here very sweet, almost like some sort of pork relish. Soft, meaty, deeply intriguing, the hash is made by chef L.J. in a big cauldron out front and sold by the pint and quart to customers who take it home to put on rice at dinnertime.
Peanut Butter Pie
Silky peanut butter pie sits on a crisp chocolate cookie crust and is topped with a thick layer of dark chocolate. Atop the chocolate is a mound of freshly whipped cream. So smooth, so rich, so tremendously satisfying!
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake
Chocolate strawberry shortcake packs profound flavor, but it is light and tender, the cake itself surprisingly delicate. Of course, the berries are fresh.
Sour Cream Coconut Layer Cake
Sour cream in the batter beautifully balances the extreme sweetness of coconut layer cake, which comes topped with a massive amount of freshly whipped cream.
Meat Loaf Blue Plate Special
Meat-and-three perfection: meat loaf with fruity tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, FRESH rutabagas, FRESH collard greens, and crisp-edged buttermilk corn bread
From the top: buttery mac ‘n’ cheese, nutty sweet potato souffle, tender ham, and cornbread with a buttermilk twang. Square meal extraordinaire!
Chipotle BBQ Slider
Pork shoulder in zesty chipotle-spiked sauce is crowned with cool, sweet cole slaw and accompanied by slices of pepperjack cheese in a slider that demands knife and fork.
Tuxedo cake is a dense chocolate brownie with a cheesecake-like topping that is made with white chocolate chips. Intense!
Big pieces of locally-picked strawberry give triple-layer strawberry cake an extraordinary fruity character.
Banana Split Cake
Banana Split Cake isn’t nearly as jejune or saccharine as I suspected it might be. In fact, it’s somewhat reserved and rather stately — a well-crafted, layered blend of all the flavors in a banana split, but with the satisfaction of a truly forkworthy cake.
Red Shed shredded barbecue is moist and porky with nice hickory flavor.
Cabbage at the Red Shed is no afterthought. It is rich and luxurious, a fine tender companion for any meat or a notable member of an all-vegetable plate.
When I asked for unsweet tea (as opposed to the more customary sweet tea), the waitress picked up the cup and wrote on it. “Ain’t means you ain’t drinking sweet tea,” she advised.
Super Skip Pimento Cheese Sandwich
Red Shed pimento cheese sandwiches are called Skip, after a customer from Georgia named Skip who came in a few years back and ordered “‘menter cheese with ‘maters.” The tomatoes that grace this Skip are peak-of-summer flavorful. Actually, this sandwich is a Super Skip, meaning it also contains bacon.
Shed Burger Basket
Unless you say otherwise, all burgers (hand-pattied, natch) come festooned with garden-fresh lettuce and tomatoes, bread and butter pickles, grilled onions, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise. They share their basket with a large order of French fries
Pig Pickin Cake
Pig Pickin cake, which is buttery sponge cake laced with pineapple, delivers light, tropical satisfaction. On a hot day, there are few desserts so refreshing.
Barbecue sauce is an interesting regional hybrid that is a little bit sweet with a sharp mustard twist.
Pork Barbecue Plate
Fine pulled pork, here dribbled with Red Shed tangy sauce, is accompanied by cole slaw and a medley of green beans and potatoes. Not shown is the chunk of fantastic cornbread that accompanies all dinner plates.
Peach Blackberry Cobbler
Peach blackberry cobbler includes not only plenty of fruit, but reefs of pastry that provide nice crunch and chew. I got this one a la mode. Whipped cream is the other topping option.
Lemon Blueberry Buttercream Cake
Unbelievably moist, intensely citrusy, and topped with fresh whipped cream, Red Shed’s lemon blueberry buttercream cake is a knock-out.
Apple Praline Cake
Apple praline cake, an inspired swirl of different kinds of sweetness, comes topped with both ice cream and whipped cream.
Gourmet Chicken Salad
Deluxe chicken salad is made with freshly-roasted white meat, apples, pecans, and dried cherries.
Intensely fruity, chunky tomato soup is rich with cream and laced with fresh basil.
Like just about everything else on the menu, Red Shed’s club sandwich goes the extra mile: hefty toast, thick-sliced ham and turkey, lots of melted cheese, and — barely visible below the beefsteak tomato slices — plenty of sweet, piggy bacon.
Fried apple pie arrives so warm that the whipped cream on top immediately begins to melt.
Fried Bologna Sandwich
Fried bologna is accompanied by caramelized onions and melting pepperjack cheese on thick bread that is grilled in butter to a golden crisp. Oinky luxury!
Chocolate cake + chocolate frosting + ribbons of white chocolate + fresh whipped cream = Red Shed Carolina Cake.
An occasional special, tomato pie is rich with cheese and plenty of bacon.