Monday, April 12, 2010

Little Pee Dee State Park, S.C. Part V. Lunch at the Webster Manor in Mullins.

Click here for the first post in this series.

It didn’t take long to pull the Expedition kayak out of the water, re-attach the wheels, and trundle it back up the path to site # 1. This time I left it assembled and inflated on the blue tarp beside the Aliner.

I’ve decided to follow Ranger Senter’s advice, and try Webster Manor in Mullins for lunch. The Town of Mullins, by the way, is in Marion County, South Carolina. The county from which Dillon was carved out at its creation in 1902, if memory serves. So this isn’t strictly a Dillon County post.

mapmullins The drive to Mullins, down Route 57 to Route 41, is interesting and pleasant. Good roads; pleasant scenery on both sides. Only 8 or 9 miles altogether.

manormap Once in Mullins, watch for the East James Street sign on your left, or you’ll miss it. The Webster Manor, at 115 East James Street, turned out to be a pleasant bed-and-breakfast in a residential area.

manorsign With just a discreet sign out front. The new GPS directed me faithfully to the address. But I was doubtful until I saw the large parking lot nearby.

porchThe lot was nearly full when I arrived, but I found a space and walked up onto the front porch. This photo was taken well after closing time, since the porch was full of people when I arrived. It must have taken at least a half-dozen “excuse-me’s” before getting to the door.

inside door Inside it was almost as crowded. But with more organization. Nearly every table taken. I paid my $8.00 with a credit card at the door, and was directed toward the buffet line.

buffet line Here’s a photo I took later of the beginning of the buffet line. People can’t be included in photographs that will be published on the web, and it was impossible to get a shot of the buffet line during dining hours without someone there filling a plate.

Those are the plates, by the way, that you see just above the newel post of the stair railing. Nice blue-patterned china. If you didn’t realize before, the plates and napkins should let you know that you’re NOT at a typical buffet.

Well! What food! The steam table you see just past the stack of plates was chuck-full of vegetables. All kinds of vegetables! Turnips, string beans, rutabagas, white rice, greens, butter beans and peas, and several more that I can’t remember.

In the interest of accurate reporting, doncha know, I took a very small portion of each. And then went on to the meat table. There I took a goodly portion of fried chicken, a very small pork chop and …. Well, that’s enough.

A lady then directed me to a table where a glass of unsweetened iced tea was already waiting. I sat and began with a careful pull on the tea. It was perfect! Clear, just the right strength, and obviously freshly brewed.

Everything else on my over-filled plate met or exceeded that tea’s high standard. The vegetables were fresh, lightly seasoned, not over-cooked, and had spent very little time in the steam tray. The chicken and pork chop were beautifully done. Again, no sign of mass production, in spite of the large crowd the kitchen had to feed.

dessert corner The dessert. Oh my. Here’s a photo of the dessert corner after it had been cleared. Suffice it to say there were several kinds of cake, pie, and pudding. I tried very small portions of several. In the interest of accurate reporting, doncha know ….

About two-thirds of the way through my meal, Webster Manor creator and owner, Mrs. Ann McDonald, came by to ask how I’d found my meal. I told her it was my first visit. She said she thought so since she didn’t remember my face.

By then it was 2:00 p.m., and time to close. Most of the diners were gone, and Mrs. McDonald sat a moment to answer questions about her remarkable restaurant.

dessert That conversation will have to wait, however, since it’s a remarkable story. Mrs. McDonald has agreed to do an audio interview when she has time. Which isn’t likely during this visit to the Pee Dee area. But hopefully it won’t be long!

front view I left Webster Manor with an invitation to return, and permission to take a few of the photos you see above. If you’re anywhere near Mullins, South Carolina, on Monday through Friday be sure to stop for lunch at Webster Manor on 115 East James Street. Their telephone number is 843-464-9632. The buffet opens at 10:30 a.m., and I recommend you plan to arrive as early as you can.

Stay tuned here for more about this visit to Little Pee Dee State Park. Next up is an informative interview with Park Manager, Geoff Akins.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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