A LITTLE TASTE OF YOCONA RIVER INN

May 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

From outside, the Yocona River Inn in rural Lafayette County looked like nothing more than the ramshackle country service station and grocery that it had once been.  Inside, though, there was no mistaking that this modest exterior housed one of Mississippi’s truly great and memorable dining experiences.

Yocona River Inn

Chef Paige Osborne worked her magic in an impressive array of dishes.  The grilled salmon was always superb, as was the catfish.  But the pièce de résistance was unquestionably the beef tenderloin filet with Yocona sauce.  If you never had it, imagine the tenderest, perfectly-cooked full-flavored beef that literally melts in your mouth, topped with a sweet, buttery, pungent sauce that perfectly complements the rich beef taste.  Forgive me for not elaborating more on the menu, but the steaks were so almighty good that I seldom ventured deeper.

As if the food were not enough, the convivial atmosphere in the dining rooms was always just the right complement to the superlative cuisine.  The aromas from the kitchen wafted over all, piquing your appetite almost unbearably.  Diners brought their own bottles, and any that had not already been consumed outdoors awaiting a table was downed with the exquisite food.  It was a homey, relaxed, fun atmosphere where you often ran into folks you knew.

Alas, in 2009, the Yocona River Inn burned to the ground, and although there was an attempt to revive it, including a Yocona in Exile restaurant in Abbeville, north of Oxford, undercapitalized in a shaky economy, the valiant effort failed.  In December, 2010, Ms. Osborne recognized the inevitable and closed her doors for good.  The Yocona River Inn was no more.

Or so it seemed.

This weekend Lisa and I popped into LB’s Meat Market in Oxford to check out the steaks, and discovered the fabled Yocona Sauce for sale.  It is outrageously expensive (if you do the math it comes out to about 90 cents per serving), but I sprung for it anyway.  After all, it’s as close as one can get to the Yocona experience since the restaurant went extinct on us.

The ingredients are modest: Burgundy, molasses, balsamic vinegar, Lea & Perrin worcestershire sauce, black pepper and kosher salt.

You heat the sauce concentrate, whisk in some butter (I know what you’re thinking, but if you’re going to eat a big ole steak, why are you worrying about your arteries in the first place?), and let stand at room temperature.

Voila!

Then you spoon some over your steak and enjoy the phenomenal flavor.

If you shut your eyes for a moment as you savor the delicious flavor, you just might be able to imagine an enjoyable evening with friends at the Yocona River Inn.

Oh, about LB’s … a real meat market that sells some local meat.  A rarity in these mega-market days.  And they sell Hoover Sauce, too.

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