After my Switzerland Cafe experience, I headed back down the mountain. After a quick stop at a Dollar Tree (I love Dollar Tree), and as I was approaching the Marion bypass, I saw a sign proclaiming hickory smoked barbecue at the Countryside Inn. I dutifully turned and drove in through Marion, which seems like a nice place. People on the street wave to each other, and drivers give the regulation four-fingers-off-the-steering-wheel acknowledgment to other drivers, even to cars with out-of-state plates.
Eventually, I saw it on the right, a big one-story building with an even bigger parking lot. Large as the parking lot was, it was full. I lucked out and moved into a just-emptied space, and saw a big pile of hickory in the back of the lot. I spoke to an employee who assured me that they cook barbecue only with hickory, no gas. Excellent! (I don’t want you to think I’m suspicious, but I verified the wood-only, no-gas policy with both the waitress and the cashier.)
I headed inside. It was just as crowded as the parking lot — this at lunch on a Thursday. Countryside — Marion — is a very friendly place. Everyone looks at you as you walk by, and smiles and nods.
Having just eaten lunch, I limited myself to a pork sandwich with the red slaw on the side, rather than on the sandwich, and some collards.
That’s not a very well-composed picture, is it? Here’s a close-up of the main event.
That’s some good looking barbecue. With a medium chop, lightly smoky, moist, flavorful — it’s just what you want. The plate came with some dip, which is good and not too sweet, and some vinegar, which I imagine was for the collards. There’s a lighter sauce on the table, one that has more vinegar (and is thus better, in my opinion) than the dip, and also a bottle of Texas Pete.
The collards were great, rich and earthy. They were very good plain and even better with just a touch of vinegar. The red slaw also was good. It could have used just a touch more vinegar and pepper, but so couldn’t we all, and I enjoyed it just as it was served.
Countryside is a very good place. If you’re headed through Western North Carolina on I-40, get off the highway and eat at Countryside. It’s open 11-8 Monday through Thursday, and from 6:30-9:00 Friday and Saturday. Sunday they serve dinner from 11:00-3:00.