Tomorrow is the autumnal equinox. To celebrate the first day of fall, I joined Glynda, Mom, and Dad in a trip to the Caro-Mi restaurant near Tryon, NC. It was a beautiful evening, so we were up for a drive to the Pacolet River Valley. Having never been before, I figured it warranted a review.
Caro-Mi has been here for as long as I can remember. I tried to find some history on the place, but couldn’t find anything online. If I do find something, I’ll post an update.
Regardless, Caro-Mi is located just outside of Tryon off of Highway 176. A quaint covered bridge connects the main parking lot to the restaurant on the other side of the river. When we arrived, the air was cool, and the babbling sounds of the Pacolet were enough to lull one into a stupor. A long porch with rocking chairs faces the river, and provides a pleasant place for diners to wait for their tables.
As we entered, an older gentleman opened the door for us.
Ya’ll go right on in. I done got what I can eat and tote out.
Where you from? Me, I’m from Cowpens.
…and so our greeter continued on his way with his bag of goodies.
In "Feasting on Asphalt", Alton Brown says that one of the best signs of a good eatery is old guys. Lots of old guys. Caro-Mi must really be good. The youngest person there looked like a good ol’ Southern Boy politician or used car salesman. Regardless of their appearance, everyone seemed to be enjoying their meal.
The interior is knotty pine paneling that looks original to the building. Covered with memorabilia, as well as photos of beauty queens and celebrities who have dined here.
The menu is limited by choice – just a few items on a single small sheet. The signature dishes are "The Ham What Am" and the mountain trout. There is also flank steak, breaded sea scallops and shrimp, cold shrimp, four pieces of chicken (no substitutes), and just vegetables. All of the dishes are between $13 and $16.
There is no alcohol, but Glynda confided to me later that they allow brown-bagging.
First a bowl of macaroni salad, a bowl of vinegar-based cole slaw, and a basket of biscuits are brought out. These play the role of starters, and the bowls are bottomless.
Dem green beans is good!
Thus said the table next to us. A bowl of said beans and a bowl of apples were brought out to accompany the entre. All four of us had ordered the trout. I guess it was the mountain stream that had lulled us into eating the contents thereof. The trout is grilled, and filleted right there are the table. It’s then covered in an Almond butter sauce.
The flavors of all were wonderful. As good as the trout was, my favorite was the vinegar cole slaw. Normally I’m not a fan of slaw, but this was fantastic.
We managed a sizeable dent in our meals, but just couldn’t find room for the blueberry cake offered for dessert.
A long tradition of good food and uncompromising quality means that this is a keeper. Apparently I’m late to the game, because summer evenings are jam-packed with diners. Fortunately, Caro-Mi does take reservations.