I first heard of the McClain Lodge and property while visiting my daughter in Brandon, Mississippi earlier this year. I was looking for a farmer’s market in the Jackson, Mississippi area and surprisingly, this was the only thing that Google returned. McClain’s description and my need for fresh, quality produce piqued my interest, so as quickly as I could, I hopped in my car and went to see what the McClain Lodge was all about.
After driving for 15 minutes from downtown Brandon, I saw the huge structure out of nowhere, which caught me by surprise.. The mammoth McClain sits on 2,000 acres of beautiful pastures. Several exotic animals were in a fenced area near where I parked my car. A noteworthy crowd had already started to form on the property early on a Saturday morning, making a line for tickets to see the animals.
McClain’s Multiple Buildings
I started my McClain visit at the General Store. Though the general store is deemed a farmer’s market, the selection of fresh vegetables was small, which could have been due to the time of year (October). Still, the choices looked better than at the local grocery stores.
There were really cool animals for sale in the General Store, with big fat and furry bunnies and baby pigs (in cages) that I nearly took home with me. I kept staring at the cute little prairie dog as I’d never seen one up close. Children and their parents were looking at the toys and impulse items for sale in the General Store as they booked their safari/animal tours, which is how you get to see the animals mentioned earlier near the parking lot.
Beside the General store stood a huge building that housed an area dedicated to men’s items (knives, apparel, and an outfitter), a bakery, meat market, mercantile, and two restaurants (the Steakhouse and Buffet). This was a nice place to buy local products and foods. One of the restaurants offered a buffet lunch so after checking out the menu, I decided to have lunch there.
There are 7 total businesses on the McClain property including the Steakhouse, Buffet (where I had lunch), McClain Lodge (accommodations), General Store, Safari Park, Tavern, and Market.
Food at McClain Lodge
The Sunday lunch at the McClain Buffet is $12.50 per person and included unlimited trips to the country-style buffet and a beverage. From memory, the buffet offered:
- Southern Fried Chicken
- Smoked Pork Chops
- Mississippi Catfish
- Purple Hull Peas
- Mac and Cheese
- Stewed Squash & Onions
- Green Beans
- Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
- Mustard Greens
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Rolls & Cornbread
- Fresh Salad Bar
- Assorted Desserts
The service was spectacular and the sweet tea was perfectly brewed. I enjoyed the selection of food, especially the purple hull peas and the sweet potato casserole. This buffet would even be a great option for vegetarians. The staff did a nice job of keeping the buffet neat and clean, and in one instance, removed a pan of food that a kid had put his fingers in, while not in the company of an adult. Color me impressed.
The Steakhouse at McClain is the higher-end restaurant, open nightly at 4:30 PM. Its hand-crafted menu makes use of local ingredients as often as possible. Foods range from Boudin Ball and NOLA BBQ Shrimp appetizers to Elk Tenderloin Steak and Blackened Redfish dinners. Reservations are accepted via OpenTable.
A stylish tavern sat off to side from the buffet. Animal print bar stools lined a long bar that offered front row views to the bottles of premium spirits available, taxidermy, and a few TV screens. I would love to have enjoyed a cocktail from the intriguing menu but it was not open that early. The Tavern also has live music many nights of the week and great happy hour specials.
Though I did not take the McClain Lodge safari tour, I know that you get to see cattle, elk, bison, zebras, and visit a petting zoo with goats and more. I read that the number of animals is near 200 with 40 different species. The night safari glow tours sound quite interesting. In the front of the property an event was taking place that involved a car wash, music, and camel rides for children.
The McClain Lodge also has several lakes, beehives, and 26 unique rooms for overnight stays. It is a popular wedding and event venue, too.
Good Things Happening in Brandon
It is nice to see a new business in Brandon, Mississippi. I think that with the sheer number of great items to buy, eat, and see, this market will do really well. Kudos to McClain for creating a family-based and foodie experience in this part of Mississippi. Best wishes for the future.
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