On the Table: Head’s Store
You may recognize Head’s as the historic country store out past Pond Road off Hwy. 100, but it has undergone a few changes recently since being purchased by The Inns at St. Albans owner Datra Herzog. Before you bemoan the loss of this quaint remnant of 19th-century living, know this: it has retained its charm. The ‘makeover’ really consists mostly of pushing the grocery shelves against the walls and moving in some dining tables and chairs so folks can eat real country food in a real country atmosphere.
Aside from burgers and sandwiches, that means fried chicken and fried catfish dinners on weekends. Besides the charm of being in St. Albans—and overlooking the lake in front of Head’s—the food was worth the drive. It’s like entering a whole other world when you land at the serene Head’s—suddenly you’re on country time, and it doesn’t matter that you might wait in line 15 minutes before placing your order with the sole cashier/server.
Food comes in cardboard baskets, and you help yourself to the plasticware and napkins. And the coffee and iced tea. But that’s part of the charm. Starters of the soup of the day and French Bread Pizza ($8) were good. The soup, Tomato Bisque ($4), was outstanding, in fact, with nice chunks of tomato and onion and tons of cream. Pizza on French bread sounded like something you feed kids for lunch, but it was surprisingly good. The bread was crusty and fresh, and our topping of ragu and mozzarella tasted great on it, simple as it sounds.
Our entrees, which came at the same time as the starters, were piping hot and very well prepared. A fried half chicken ($13) came with a scrumptious biscuit and choice of cole slaw or potato salad. Whatever you do, be sure to order all three of those: each was stellar— nothing fancy or uniquely flavored, just very good. The slaw had shaved carrots, cabbage and broccoli; the potato salad included slivers of red cabbage.
The chicken had a nice crust and was fried very tender. The catfish was so mild and flaky, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was that morning’s catch from the lake out front. The accompanying hush puppies, too, were very tasty and sweet. The catfish ($12) had a crisp cornmeal crust and came with choice of side.
From the sandwich list, we sampled Braised Beef Brisket ($9), which resembles the famous ‘French dip’ sandwich with thinly sliced beef piled onto a soft French bread roll. This sandwich was spruced up with caramelized onions, sweet aioli and sun-dried tomatoes. I loved the sandwich, but not the tart-sour tomatoes; their flavor distracted from the pleasure of the beef, mayonnaise and bread combination.
If you like meatloaf, you’ll love the Country Burger ($10), which is basically a slab of it on a hamburger bun with bread & butter pickles, provolone cheese and grainy mustard aioli. It came with delicious waffle fries—hot, not greasy and well-salted.
Dessert consists of an array of sweet rolls, pie slices and house-made cookies—lemon or chocolate chip. The latter were very good—chewy and full of chips. Or you can walk around the store and pick up something like chocolate-covered nuts or bagged candy, if you like.
the scene | Quaint country eatery
the chef | D. Scott Phillips
the prices | $9-$14 fried chicken or catfish meals, $7-$10 sandwiches
the favorites | Fried Chicken, Fried Catfish, Potato Salad, Slaw, Biscuits, French Bread Pizza, Tomato Bisque
chef chat » d. scott phillips
pedigree | Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island
favorite ingredient | Garlic
favorite restaurant | Pastaria
favorite cookbook | The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
most memorable dining experience | A very memorable night at Jimmy’s on the Park
guilty pleasure food | Ice cream
3516 st. albans road | 636.821.3646
Photos: Bill Barrett