Family-run and as relaxed as a country picnic, The Purple Hull Market is a source of Deep South square meals, exemplary fried seafood baskets, and — weekends only — hand-cut ribeye steaks.
The family behind it also operate the BBQ Barn next door, and they do know a thing or two about meat. In fact, there is a butcher counter on premises where you can buy steaks, cold cuts, liver pudding, sausage, and hoop cheese to take home.
Carnivorous expertise shines brightest on weekend “steak nights,” when gorgeous aged, hand-cut ribeyes are char-cooked in sizes that range from 10 to 22 ounces. “The bigger the steak, the better,” advised staff member Julie; so I went for the 22-ouncer. It is a mammoth reef of beef, so magnificently marbled that even the lightest press with utensil causes juice to flow. It’s not a toothless-tender steak, but that is a good thing because its chew elicits torrents of succulence. Steak nights also feature prime rib and pork chops.
The rest of the week, the menu is less a splurge and more a good old southern plate-lunch repertoire: chicken pot pie, pot roast, meat loaf, fried chicken, and Friday catfish accompanied by such traditional sides as mac & cheese, rutabagas, squash casserole, turnip or collard greens, sweet potato souffle, cheesy broccoli casserole, and okra & tomatoes. Meals are procured at the hot bar, where you see what’s available and the server plates it for you.
At the order counter around from the hot bar, customers order sandwiches: crisp-fried thick bologna (wonderful topped with chili, onions, and mustard), shrimp po-boys, Philly steaks, and sausage dogs. A fried pork chop sandwich is almost comically thick … and the pork chop itself is seriously succulent. Expertly prepared seafood baskets always are available.
For dessert: house-made fruit cobblers (blackberry, loaded with fresh fruit, is a standout), pecan pie, apple pie, and brownie/ice cream pileups.
Purple Hull Market really began as a roadside produce stand and only subsequently morphed into a restaurant. It continues to offer a selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, butcher-block offerings, peanuts, and locally-made jellies, syrups, sauces, and preserves.