Today's blizzard-like conditions find me sitting in the airport, waiting to see if I'll make it out to Minnesota or if I'll be lucky enough to drive back home in the 5-8 inches we're expecting and attempt to fly out tomorrow. Trying to think of this as a win-win (even though I didn't too a great job of it in the previous sentence) because it means I either get to make it out of the snow to a slightly less snowy area, or I get to go home and sleep in my own bed for an extra night.
Since it doesn't sound as comforting when I write it as when I said that in my head, I'm transitioning my focus to Mississippi. Beautiful, hot Meridian Mississippi, where the coldest it went was still winter-warm by my standards. If only we could all have that Mississippi warmth.
Until then, I'm going to have to be comforted by the memory of the best steak I've ever had. Which is to say, I visited on four different trips, and every time I was shocked at the quality of the food. I should preface this with how you get to The Rustler: off one of the main highways, there's an exit that takes you to a Stop sign where single-lane highway traffic is coming at you from both directions. Once it's safe to cross, you'll drive under a bridge and along some side dirt roads until you reach a tiny red house with boarded over windows. If you aren't one of the 8 or so cars that make it onto the gravel in front in time, you'll have to park across the street - an abandoned industrial building. After finding this place on Yelp and TripAdvisor with TONS of great reviews I brought my boss, who noted the 5-7 police cars we passed on the way. I assumed that meant there was a police station nearby, while she assumed...otherwise. And I think she was right - on one of the visits my waitress insisted on seeing me out to my car.
I never had an issue though, and everyone at the site I was working at insisted it was top-notch celebration food where no one they knew had had an unsavory experience. And once you make it in - if you make it in, and don't chicken out after driving by - you will be rewarded big-time. With a few white Christmas lights strung outside and upside-down colorful wine bottles planted around the small front garden, The Rustler tries from the start to prove it's worth the visit. Once you walk in, prepare for darkness! When your eyes adjust you'll find a bar on the left side, and small wooden-walled dining room with fat cushioned armchairs and thick white tablecloths. Service is impeccable, with servers outlining every possible meal option and ensuring your drinks are full and appetite is satiated.
After a big ol' loaf of bread (give them the heads up and we can skip this torture, team!) arrives, you'll order a nice big glass of wine - red and white are delicious here - or mixed drink. Each cut of steak comes with a salad and your choice of sides, but I'll narrow those down for you right now. Every single time you w order the salad with their homemade blue cheese dressing and their stuffed mashed potatoes. Usually asparagus is a side option - you'll need this too.
Their blue cheese dressing is the stuff of dreams. Children and adults alike will weep when separated from this life-changing version; I've quizzed the chef (who comes out a few times a night to check on diners) on a couple of visits on his secret. He swears it's based on the right local blue cheese and layering instead of just mixing. This ish is good enough to eat plain with a fork, which I may or may not have done shen I had finished my salad.
And their stuffed potato! A baked potato is cored and mixed with thick bacon bits, chives, sour cream, cheddar and chives, then restored in its proper home and baked with an extra layer of cheddar on top. I would happily get obese on this stuff, so it's probably for the best it's so far away. The asparagus is always thick and filling, beautifully roasted and flavorful.
Then we finally get to the steak! I always ordered the petit filet, which with a glass of wine runs you about $45 before tax and tip. Although this is one of the smallest cuts, it's a huge portion, and paired with the other delicacies I mentioned will leave you ready to pop even if you ate less all day to prep. It is juicy and tender and melt-in-your-mouth slice-like-butter delicious. Just life changing. And compared to steakhouses in my area, a really great deal.
Since The Rustler is a relatively small establishment, everything is made to order and goes through a very small chain from when you place your order to when it hits the chef - really just the waiter/waitress between the two of you. This is such a win when you need to ensure your food is Celiac-safe, although a lot of this food (minus the bread) is already gluten-free. Even though I didn't have any Celiacs with me on my adventures, I believe the attention to detail and attempts to make service as personal as possible makes it a great gluten-free option in the Meridian area. To The Rustler: I miss you so much - please make house calls up North (It's worth a shot)!
Have you been to The Rustler in Meridian, MS? Any other places in Mississippi I need to check out?