Southern style cookin', Deep South love
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
I need to start with the GLOB Master's signature line, "I'm coming back" to MJ's Country Cafe and Buffet in Reddick just south of McIntosh. There is an Eating Professional's objective staring me down, challenging every heart healthy promise I have ever made.
I am talking about MJ's Favorite Cowboy Burger (image at top). This protein explosion consists of a half–pound of hamburger sandwiched between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. This lunch time belly bomb is served with your choice of French fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries, or fried okra.
If my daddy were alive I would take him to Reddick to treat him to this hamburger. If any GLOBers have eaten this big-boy burger and lived to talk about, please identify yourself! What do YOU think about the MJ Favority Cowboy Burger stomach stuffer?
MJ's is the perfect weekend diversion get-away-- a short drive 'back to a slower time in old Florida." This 30- minute destination south of the Urban GLOB "out on highway #441 where the cars sound like waves crashing down on the beach" is the ideal foodie get-away.
The GLOB Master is talking serious, home style, southern cooking with stick-to-your-ribs meat loaf, fried chicken, pot roast, baked chicken, fried okra, okra and tomatoes, greens, mac 'n cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn bread, biscuits, white bread . . . have I made you hungry yet?
The GLOB Historian, Jon Roosenraad, was my lunch partner on this trip and we decided he would order from the menu and I would experience the N. Florida Famous MJ lunch buffet since Rosey typically shows more restraint in his lunch time caloric intake than the GLOB Master. Rosey didn't even LOOK at the MJ's Favorite Cowboy Burger! Instead he ordered the Sandy's Southern Sandwich, which was a piece of very nice looking fried chicken exploding out of all sides of the S S S Roll. The fried green tomato was equally beautiful, fried to a crispy brown delight, The professor liked his sandwich, even though it was just a little more Southern fried heaven than this Michigan born transplant normally consumes.
When our very friendly server brought our lunches to the table, I asked if they got a lot of orders for the MJ's Favorite Cowboy Burger.
"Not really," she said and added, "Most of the lunch crowd are serious, hard working folk, coming in for MJ's Lunch Buffet."
Boy was she correct. By noon, the tables were full of lunch outers waiting their turn at the chow line. I think of my ex-wife here because, if she had seen the six sheriff's office employees sitting across the aisle from Dr. Jon and me, she would have wanted to know why they were all bigger than me.
Since I am an eating professional, I thought it was incumbent upon me to 'fit in' so I made me a good looking plate of meat loaf, green beans, corn bread stuffing, and coleslaw -- a plate that had me smiling like a lunch time Cheshire cat.
I swear all the eyes in the diner were on me to see if I was going to get the obligatory second plate of lunch.
To be honest, I felt bad about not giving Mike and Jana's fresh fried chicken and fried pork loin serious consideration. I know I heard the lima beans and Mac & Cheese , and a very fresh-looking and tasty chopped broccoli salad in a pleading voice say, "Eat me Mikee!"
The entire lunch was exactly what this Southern boy needed in the way of deep south culinary affirmation.
I chanced upon MJ's when I met the owners Mike and Jana one afternoon in Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille. Much to my surpise I realized that Mike Sanford, me, and Jana Sanford-Heller, my daughter weren't the only Mike and Jana's in this part of the world.
MJ's Country Cafe and Buffet is southern food and attitude personified. Gosh, GLOBers, it says so on the MJ's Country Cafe & Buffet website: "MJ's is just an extension of our home. We want our guests to feel at home here. We want to know you, visit with you, and send you away with a full belly."