Hillbilly Hideaway is like a family supper
If your looking for some good eatin’, the kind that’s so good it’ll make your tongue slap your brains out and have you feelin’ fuller than a tick on a hound dog, then the Hillbilly Hideaway’s the place for you. Now if you don’t like being called names like honey, darlin’ and sugarpie, yuns is best off a-stayin’ at home. But if you don’t mind that and you got a hankerin’ for some down-home country cookin’ and the southern hospitality to go with it then you need to take yourself a drive out to the home-style country cookin’ restaurant in rural Walnut Cove some weekend.
Out on winding Pine Hall road sits a rustic cabin-like structure made of split logs that aren’t just for looks but are part of the structure. Inside, hand-hewn rafters hold together the plank walls and ceiling. Old baskets, lanterns, signs and tools hang about the walls which are all left in their natural finish creating a warm, homey atmosphere. While you’re waiting for a seat you can visit with folks on the enclosed porch in one of the old rockers.
Rosanna Flinchum, a belle as southern as they come and sweet as molasses on a warm biscuit, has been waitressin’ at the Hideaway since it opened 28 years ago. As myself, my wife and daughter took our seats she filled our glasses with the sweetest tea this side of the Mason Dixon ‘— milk for the young-un’. Then she served us up our vittles. Now there ain’t no orderin’ menu at the Hideaway. Instead, the food is brought to the table in bowls and you get what you’re served, just like Momma used to. We had fried chicken, country ham, barbeque spare ribs, pintos, potatoes, green beans, cooked apples, slaw, cream corn, cornbread and flat bread. The young-un’ immediately started filling up her plate with a variety of foods which, if you’re a parent, you know is a good sign to begin with. She especially liked the warm, cinnamon-cooked apples.
And my-oh-my the food was good. We ate, and ate, and ate, and ate until we couldn’t eat no more. When we were full we kept tryin’ to eat ’cause it was so good. The fried chicken must have been cooked with buttermilk and flour or something. It was so tender and tasty, like something I’ve only had at a small church picnic as a kid. The slaw was vinegary and made with fresh, crispy cabbage. The green beans, pintos and cream corn reminded me of a Saturday afternoon at my Mamaw’s as a child when the pressure cooker was sizzlin’ and steamin’ with green beans and she was busy canning corn, then we’d all sit down for a vegetable lunch made of foods fresh from the garden. And the flat bread was like nothing I’ve ever had.
Don’t expect to leave with no cookbook, though, ’cause them family recipes is secret. The recipes are passed down from generation to generation and are a combination of that of Louise Brey (co-owner with husband Sam) and a cook that everyone knows as Granny Smith whom they hired when they stared the business. Granny has since passed away, but her presence remains a part of the place.
After your belly’s full you can head down the hill to the music hall. You might as well because you’ll be in no shape to drive, even though the place is, as the food list says, ‘100% Non-alcohol.’ Sam Brey starts the music every Saturday night at 6:30 and the pickin’ goes on ’till about 9 p.m. Sometimes the house band plays, sometimes there are special guests. Country, bluegrass and gospel are the styles you’ll find a-permeatin’ the air. As you walk in the music hall, hand-written signs above the doorway say ‘No alcohol’ and ‘No Dancing.’ In the dimly-lit hall, old Thomas bus seats are bolted to the cement floor for patrons to sit on and in a corner a house spider sits in an elaborate web attached to a chair that apparently hasn’t been moved for quite some time. Tonight the house is packed. Some folks have come down from Virginia as they say they do a couple times a year. Others are boaters from nearby Belews Lake and some are locals like Dorothy Creed who’s been every weekend for the past 28 years. Folks tap their feet to the music as the musicians play old country and bluegrass songs on the red-carpeted stage lit with rows of soft white bulbs along the edge.
The show is almost over and before a couple of last gospel songs Sam leads the group in the Hillbilly Hideaway theme song:
We have anything you want to eat, our foods so hot and tasty
On Saturday night you’ll also get a treat
We’ll be pickin’ and singin’ that good ol’ country music
You’ll wanna come and get a seat
Then on the chorus he sings, ‘“Hideaway,’” and everyone in the crowd responds ‘“Hiedaway.’”
Sam says they stared the Hillbilly Hideaway ’cause years ago they used to get together with other musicians and play at the house on weekends. People came out to watch and pretty soon they had about 75 people coming over and Louise would feed them pork chops and gravy. Finally, he says, his wife told him, ‘“The music’s got to go.’”
‘“My wife was raised up in the mountains and she learned how to cook,’” Sam says. So they decided to start a business with a restaurant and music hall.
The 70-year-old Sam Brey, wearing black and red pointed cowboy boots and a red patterned shirt is on stage doing what he loves; something that started with a guitar as a Christmas present for he and his three brothers when he was about 12.
‘“ Only the finest people come to the Hillbilly Hideaway,’” says Sam. ‘“We just have fun, like a family,’”