The Best Meal in South Sound

The Best Meal in South Sound

By Joe Hyer

What’s the best meal in South Sound?  Just asking that question springs a dozen or more ideas and memories into my mind.  I like to think of ‘best’ as a slightly more qualitative term than quantitative.  It’s like a class- there’s good, better, and then best.  And best depends on many things.

     Here’s one – the Farms Forever Dinner by the Community Farmland Trust is the best meal in South Sound.  Truly crafted farm to table meal of epic proportions, all the fresh oysters I could eat, and raising funds to create more farms for more produce for more epic meals.  Circle of life.  The only downside- you have to be in town on October 20, 2018, or a similar date in future years, or you miss out.

Okay, another idea.  The perfect birthday dinner.  Years ago, I was going to take my mother out on her birthday.  The day before, I went by Ramblin’ Jacks to see Billy Roberson, the chef at the time.  I told him the occasion, and asked him to make up something special.  It’s sometimes nice to not need a menu when you sit down in a restaurant.  Blackened Sirloin smothered in his New Orleans Prawn Sauce with grilled shrimp.  Eventually, this became a mainstay of the menu, as ‘Southern Style Surf & Turf’.  Sometimes, the best meal in South Sound is- well, really, the moral of this story is the best meal anything Billy Roberson made.  No offense to Mom, but even she would appreciate that he could make us enjoy spinach.

    And then there’s Xinh’s Curry Shrimp and those eggrolls.  The best meal in South Sound is Xinh’s crew cooking outside in tents on an oyster beach, at a farm, at fundraising events across the region. Taylor Shellfish has been so kind over the years to so many non-profits, providing this distinctly local test.  It was sad to see her restaurant close last year, but it is great to see Xinh gets to enjoy some retirement.

Just a few weeks ago I got to enjoy a multi-course mushroom themed dinner at 3 Magnets brewery, coinciding with the launch of several beers.  The Mexican Chocolate Stout, which is what hooked me into coming, was as spicy as it was delightful.  The food was also amazing, but something in particular struck me about the room.  It felt to me like a German beerhall, as the tables were long, and seated 12-16.  It was a forced social atmosphere, and you were elbow to elbow with people you didn’t know.  It reminded us all to put down the mobile devices, and chat.  With great beer to drink, everyone’s your friend.

I say with total humility- many people have told me the best meal in South Sound is a Demoburger at Lakefair with an Elephant Ear for Dessert.  Having now cooked about 100,000 of those burgers- I can grant they are tasty-gooey-great, which is a kind of best, but really, you should try all the non-profit food booths.  The science youths make good crepes.  Zonta makes a darn good sausage.  And I can call it all great fair food- but for me, the best meal in South Sound cannot be served in a paper boat with a plastic fork.

We are lucky to live in a region peppered with amazing restaurants, staffed with excellent people, providing fresh, local cuisine.  In many ways, the best meal IS South Sound.  This is our third annual food issue, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of ideas to write about.  Please, experiment and sample, and when I see you out and about this summer, let me know how you answer the question.  I think I have finally settled on an answer.

The best meal in South Sound is not one, but thousands of meals.  It is cooked with food provided by Robert Coit and his dedicated staff at the Food Bank.  It is prepared by Rodney O’Neill and his crew at Barb’s n Friends, by Lisa Hayes and her volunteers for the People’s House, and by so many more groups throughout the community.  The best meal in South Sound will be the one that finally ends hunger, forever.