Bear Bites: Dawson's Kitchen

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Dawson’s Kitchen at Milltown Market is a small, charming soul food establishment located in Payne City, the small milltown encircled by Macon. While I was reviewing H&H last week, a customer sitting at the table next to said that Dawson’s Kitchen was the better restaurant.

Naturally, I wanted to see how the two stacked up. Again, I asked my roommate Kyle and friend Justin Baxley to join me.

We pulled into the parking lot and made our way to the front doors. The exterior of the building was welcoming. However, the inside was slightly disorienting. Dawson’s is a restaurant, bakery, and a market all under one roof. We examined the goodies and desserts on display, knowing that we’d make a stop after our meal.

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We made our way to the register and had a chat with one of the owners, Dawson Moore.  We asked him what he’d recommend. “What never leaves the menu… fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. The fried chicken is hard to beat,” Moore said.

The service was cafeteria style. Patrons come down the line, examine the food displayed, and tell the workers behind the counter what they’d like to order. Justin got the Salmon Patties, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese. Kyle ordered the roast beef, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. I chose the fried chicken, fried okra and mac and cheese.

We sat down at the table and began our comparison.  I enjoyed the lemonade. The mac and cheese was better at Dawson’s. The amount and combination of the cheeses appealed to Justin and me; we both like a lot of cheese. However, Kyle felt that H&H had the better cheese-to-noodle ratio. The fried okra had just come out of the oil when they placed it in my tray. It was fresh, tender and the batter was the perfect consistency. It could have melted in my mouth.

The rest of the meal didn’t live up to its potential. The mashed potatoes were under-salted.  “It felt like it was missing flavor,” Justin remarked during the meal. The fried chicken tasted the same. The thin skinned thigh was seasoned with only salt and pepper. It was good but a little on the dry side. The roast beef missed the mark.

“I found myself adding some salt even with their gravy on it,” Kyle said at the end of the meal. The bread that we received with the meal was not anything special. The rolls were better than the cornbread, which was hard and needed a little more flavor. It may have been sitting out for a bit.

We sat for a while to let our food digest, then we made our way back to the desserts. Kyle purchased lemon squares, and I bought the homemade peach ice cream. The lemon squares were good but not outstanding, and the ice cream was unbelievable. We left with fully bellies, nearly satisfied.

Dawson’s was good but not great. If you want food quick and you’re in the area, I recommend it.  Dawson’s Kitchen at Milltown Market is located at 3360 Brookdale Ave, Payne City and is open from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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