The King’s Tavern makes a one-stop shop for local history in Natchez, both culinary and architectural. Erected the same year George Washington was elected president, the King’s Tavern was built as a horse stable. Occasional renovations set it up for human occupation, and now it’s a comfortable place that oozes history. Its dungeon-like dining room gives credence to tales that the building is haunted by centuries of restless spirits.
Regina Charboneau has her interpretation of Southern cuisine from San Francisco back to her home base in Natchez. The restoration and re-opening of the King’s Tavern was one of the first on an ever-expanding list of area restaurants operated by Charboneau.
When a very important building meets a very important chef, you might expect high-prices and a lot of hubbub. However, the Tavern remains relaxed, romantic and boasts reasonable prices: a rare mix of rich history and destination-worthy food.
The King’s Tavern does much of its cooking in a wood-fired oven, which helps maintain an 18th century feel. Because Natchez is the self-proclaimed “Biscuit Capital of America,” wood-fired biscuit-crusted pot pies are a must. We go with the crawfish variety, which comes choc full of plump tails in a rich vegetable stew full of peas and savory slices of mushroom: a good balance of earthy vegetables and sweet shellfish. You might be able to find a better crawfish pie across the river in Louisiana, but you’d have to search pretty hard.
Oddly enough, the best-selling item on the menu is a brisket flat bread. Nothing about the dish is obviously Southern, but it sure is delicious. Tender, peppery, very thin slices of brisket rest atop the light, crisp-bottomed crust. The dish is finished with horseradish creme and green onions. It screams for beer. Luckily, the bar here is fully stocked.
Speaking of drinks, Regina’s husband and son operate a tiny rum distillery next door. The award-winning products are used to make craft cocktails to complement the food. It’s a tasty and historically apporpriate match. Rum would have been popular in the 18th when the King’s Tavern was born.