Judy and I turned into the north Seattle strip mall to have lunch at the Old Korean Village restaurant. Vegetables, rice noodles, fish, very healthy. We cruised around and parked – and then we saw it. Caspar’s. It was new, just opened last month. We immediately gave up our saintly food goals and wheeled around to park in front of this southern food emporium.
Nickie Sue, our waitress sauntered over, sized us up and apparently decided we needed a big dose of delicious calories. She promised we’d each gain ten pounds that day. I think we did.
First, Nickie Sue brought us sweet tea. It was very sweet. We ordered one meal, BBQ ribs with side dishes. We ended up taking most of it home. And that was one order split in half. The ribs were perfect. They came apart in your hands. They had been slowly smoked and there was a variety of sauces to try, most of them made on the premises.
Our hostess brought us a sample of fried alligator and it’s something I would order in the future. The meat is white and tender, sort of a cross between chicken and fish. You’d never believe that such a forbidding, tough animal would surrender meat this tasty. At Casper’s they deep fry chunks of alligator with a breaded crust. Delicious.
Other customers were plainly there to do some serious eating. The guys at the next table had huge fried alligator “po’ boy”sandwiches, accompanied by pounds of fried potatoes and battered okra.
”Try it,” our new friends said. The okra was crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, salty and delicious.
Ever have a hush puppy? I hadn’t. They’re round balls of deep fried corn meal with tiny bits of herbs in them. Most excellent.
I especially liked the baked beans side dish. The beans were full of sugar and a lot of pork was floating around in them. I can’t quite get around how bad all this stuff is for your heart and general health, but it sure is tasty, and okay to do once in a while (I hope).
Aside from the food being marvelous, the staff was just as great. Nickie Sue is possible the World’s Greatest Waitress. We talked to Cole Younger (direct descendant of THE Cole Younger, an outlaw who ran with Jesse James). Cole is the chef at this restaurant and he took us out back to show us the huge slow cooker they use. It was packed full of pork and other meat, and when he opened the door, the smell must have summoned people for miles. Cole loves his job, as did all the staff at Caspar’s, an unusual tribute to management in the strange world of the restaurant business.
The owner, Caspar, was not there, so we took this picture of a picture of him.
Cole says Casparhas his own alligator farm in Florida, and that in general they source their ingredients directly from where they are grown. No mixes, no packaged ingredients.
Cole pointed out that you can tell a lot about a restaurant by sidling around to the trash area in the back and checking out the empty shipping cartons.
“You won’t see boxes from Sysco back here,” he said. (Sysco supplies prepared foods to restaurants.) And indeed, what we saw were empty boxes from basic ingredients – like flour, eggs, or various vegetables. This indicates that the restaurants cook everything from scratch and don’t depend on prepared components, like mac and cheese, soups, even sauces. Thanks for the tip, Cole.
As we were finishing up, and packing food into boxes, the thought of coffee rolled through my head. As if on cue, Nickie Sue appeared with two steaming cups.
“Dessert?” she asked coyly. Although we groaned and rolled our eyes, Nickie Sue knew better and brought us four small, steaming hot beignets with powdered sugar (complimentary). I have to learn how to make them. They are a delicate egg dough, shaped and deep fried. They’re a bit gummy in the middle and crisp on the outside. I was too transported by the beignets to stop and take a picture of them.
Don’t go into this place and even imagine you’ll just have a salad. It is definately worth your periodic departure from healthy eating. These guys really know how to cook. And be cheerful and interesting as well.
What started out as lunch turned out to be a fun experience.
Casper’s is owner operated and not part of a chain.
Casper’s Southern Cuisine
15226 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline, WA