As you all know, during this time of Covid-19 virus pandemic, the world has been shut down, with everyone under orders to stay at home. Many of these orders began in mid-March, which means many of us have been “at home” for nearly eight weeks. Finally, now that the rate of infections are starting to slow, many states (and countries) are slowly beginning to re-open.
The State of Texas is one of the first states to begin slowly re-opening for business, one business segment at a time. On Friday, May 8, restaurants were able to re-open to 25% occupancy and tables must be separated. We eagerly looked forward to be able to go out to a restaurant, sit down and enjoy a meal that someone else prepared, and someone else cleaned up.
Our friends and neighbors, Pam and Dale Morse, invited us to go with them to a unique restaurant they heard about from some other friends here in the Escapee’s Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, TX. We made plans to go to “Larry Bruce Gardens”, in Kennard, TX on Sunday May 11, to enjoy their Sunday Buffet Brunch.
Larry Bruce Gardens is unique in that the restaurant (and guest cabins, plus a swimming pool) are located on a very remote seven-acre vegetable farm. Nearly all the items served are grown right on the grounds – a true “Farm-to-Table” experience. Speaking of experience, what an adventure the journey to the restaurant was.
Here are the directions as they appear on http://www.larrybrucegardens.com:
“From Lufkin take 103 West. Go through the town of Kennard. 2 miles out of Kennard you will see on your right a blue state highway sign that says Larry Bruce Gardens. When you see that sign turn on your left blinker. You will see a forestry road 514, turn there and follow 2 miles to your first left where you will see our sign. Follow that road CR 4600 until it bends to the left. There you will see the farm, guest houses and restaurant.…”
Dale told us not to worry, he was driving and had gotten more precise verbal directions when he called for reservations. He didn’t tell us, until we were on the road, that said directions included the phrase “after the third cattle guard, turn right”. We were about to embark on a journey through the farm roads and forestry roads of East Texas.
Thanks in part to Dale’s navigating abilities, and in part to the GPS system in his car, we made it in a timely manner, with only one small detour. In fact, we were very early for our reservations, but were seated immediately (appropriately “socially distanced” from the nearest table). We were offered the traditional Texas beverages of “sweet-tea” or “un-sweet tea”, and invited to help ourselves to the Buffet that was set up in the other room.
The restaurant doubles as the facility for the area’s Bible Study…
The restaurant was decorated with five lavish chandeliers, and beautiful furniture, but didn’t look very well planned out. We asked the server what the history of the building was. She told us it originally was a basketball court for the the young boys growing up on the farm. Once the restaurant concept was launched, the basketball court became the foundation for the kitchens and buffet serving area. As business grew, the building received several additions over the years.
At the beginning of the Buffet table, there were disposable gloves and papers provided for guests to use while serving themselves from the abundance of dishes available. That particular day, we enjoyed fresh green salad, with all the home-grown toppings, along with a scrumptious brisket, stuffing, the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had, and much, much more. We finished off our meal with a very tasty cheesecake (alas…they had no pie!)
After the meal, we explored the grounds, including the greenhouses, swimming pool and pond. There are several cottages available for overnight stays, and many hiking/equestrian trails through the nearby Crockett National Forest
It was much too soon to think about ending our adventure, but it was time to head back to Livingston. The drive home was uneventful, but enjoyable, as we drove through several very small towns full of historic buildings.
Travel is still somewhat restricted between states, and the country of Panama is still not accepting the arrival of international flights so we can’t yet get to our “Slice of Heaven”. Therefore we are staying at our home base in Livingston, TX for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned to read more of our adventures as we explore our local area more in depth.
Remember to wash your hands!