The so-called underground dinner groups, which began as almost a form of commando dining - who knew where they would pop up next - have begun taking that pop-up literally, and we have yet another currently working. Entre presents A Good Man Is Hard To Find, a tribute not to Mae West, who reversed the adjectives, but to Flannery O'Connor and her short story. It's in a storefront that's been used successfully as an event space a number of times, so the interior is far smoother than "storefront" would suggest. They've added Spanish moss, photos and a picket fence to make you say y'all with more ease.
There's a fairly elaborate cocktail menu, and a brief wine list. To go with either of these, there's absolutely no excuse to pass up the bread basket. A full basket includes 6 different items. Clear winners are remarkable hush puppies, fluffy angel biscuits and cayenne-enriched cheese sticks, the latter served in a glass. As to the cornbread, my Kentucky-bred pal nodded approvingly. "Real Southern cornbread. Not the sweet stuff." Indeed, it was grannyesque, firm and a little chewy with a good crust. Sorghum butter, apple butter and smoked orange marmalade came alongside.
For those who wonder about country ham, here's a rare chance to explore. A plank holds three hams, sliced and served like prosciutto, but better, showing products from Burger's of Missouri, and Broadbent and Father's of Kentucky, a nice chance to compare and contrast. Simple and wonderful.
Salads didn't work quite as well. The wedge bore great bacon and blue cheese but the dressing was wan. A kale salad with slices of braised, sliced and breaded pig's ear was another chance to try something different. The pig's ear is gelatinously chewy, the sort of texture sometimes found in Chinese cuisine, although cooked farther towards tenderness than might be thought possible. A light dressing on the kale was faintly sweet, the menu mentioning apple butter, although the notes were indiscernible.
A completely new iteration of pork and beans began with a square of pork belly, unctuous on the inside and perfectly crisped on the outside. The beans were Sea Island reds, related to blackeyed peas, small and creamy-rich, and braised greens, which seemed to be a mixture of several kinds, finished things up. And then there was the quail, a bird that has always seems like the ultimate Southern game bird. A light lacquer-glaze of sorghum, not the least bit overcooked, the mild but distinctive flavor waltzing across the tongue. Alongside was rice with the pan juices and some very old-fashioned dried hominy. The hominy cooks up to resemble corn and it's easy to be fooled into thinking it's just chewy corn, but no, not at all. Good stuff and a fine plate of food.
Midwesterners usually don't know much about buckles - basically they're fruit-filled simple one-layer cakes with streusel on top. Made here with plenty of blueberries and served hot in a skillet with a caramel sauce, the flavors were good, but the cake was dry. We should've taken the offered buttermilk ice cream.
Still, a good set of work, with some excellent service and enthusiasm about the food that, happily, was only on display when questions were asked.
Open through May 4. Reservations strongly encouraged.
360 N. Boyle Ave.
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Fair