Eat like Celebrities at Movie Star

All of the other groups went the standard (read: boring) route of explaining the Pythagorean theorem or SOHCAHTOA with some poster board and letters cut out from other colors of poster board. I convinced (read: refused to accept anything but) my group to do our project on spirals. That’s it. Just spirals. And we weren’t making a poster. We made a video.

It was a 10-minute video in which I played a character named Professor Jinglepocket (I wore a lab coat and put a bunch of coins in the pocket. That was the extent of the backstory I had come up with). To the best of my memory, we didn’t so much explain anything about spirals, but just showed a few examples of things that were shaped like spirals while I tried my hardest to be funny. It must have worked, because the teacher laughed a lot, and showed it to all of her other classes. People I didn’t know were calling me “professor” in the hallways and I was the king of town for weeks – until that one kid fell down at the pep rally and everyone forgot about me.

All that is to say, the next closest thing to celebrity I have experienced has been with Food With Friends. We regularly get to experience the best foods this town has to offer and are treated like the Red Hot Chili Peppers while we do it. (They’re still cool, right?)

Going to Movie Star was no different. We were there between their lunch and dinner services, so we had the place all to ourselves. Movie Star has been a staple in Hattiesburg for a decade. We just so happened to be there on their 10-year anniversary. Starting in Purvis – originally intended to be a steakhouse – Movie Star moved over to Oak Grove and hasn’t looked back, nor have they lost a step. By the time they reopened the door at 5:00, there was already a line formed at the door. The server told us it was always like that. With the food we ate, it wasn’t hard to see why.

“I’m gonna wear my stretchy pants!”   - Evan

Every time I thought about Movie Star, I – like many Hattiesburgers – immediately think about the stellar buffet. In fact, when we were planning our night out, I was thinking we were gonna hit the line and excitedly proclaim, “I’m gonna wear my stretchy pants!” in anticipation. I had no idea they also offered plated dishes and always had. Knowing the quality I had come to expect, I was thrilled to find out we were going to be getting a selection of their favorites.

First off was the Mississippi catfish platter. The plate came piled high with three huge catfish filets fried crispy in a cornmeal breading – just like they ought to be. These were accompanied by hush puppies, fries, and coleslaw. Allison was ecstatic to see that the cabbage was chopped up small, the way she likes it.

Now, if you’re thinking “Catfish, cole slaw, and hushpuppies? That’s nothing special.” I can tell right away you haven’t had them done by the fine folks at Movie Star. The best restaurants are the ones who can take something ordinary and put that little extra in it – that’s right – to make it extraordinary. And Movie Star does just that.

Next up they brought out one of my favorites – Hamburger Steak. They grilled up some ground beef that is perfectly seasoned and lean without being too lean. The hamburger steak is positively smothered by caramelized onions and mushrooms in a rich homemade gravy. This is the kind of meal that takes me right back to sitting at Mom’s dinner table, surrounded by loved ones, talking about the ins and outs of our day, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. It is the kind of food that comforts. That is the feeling Movie Star specializes in. The feeling of family, the feeling of home, the feeling of comfort. It seeps out of the walls, it pours from the servers, the chefs, and the owners, and fills the room day in and day out.

“JAMIE ATE MY HALF!”  – Allison

Before we knew what hit us, they were sitting a giant plate of crisp crinkle-cut fries between us. I wondered to myself if they were giving us a French fry course, but the fries were so good I was perfectly content with the idea that they were. Shortly after came a seafood platter to go along with it, however. The plate was piled high with fried softshell crab, two types of shrimp, fried oysters, and of course, some more of those killer catfish filets and hushpuppies. Jamie loved the shrimp and was adamant that it be brought up. He must have told me four times to make sure everybody knew that he loved the shrimp.

“The people need to know about these shrimp!” he cried. Well here you go, buddy (For the record, I completely agree with him. The shrimp were stupendous, and the public definitely needs to know.)

When we get these plates, we split all the items up evenly so that we can make sure we all try some of everything. I was sitting back in my chair with my eyes closed thinking about how well everything had been fried when I heard a commotion from the other side of the table. Seems that Jamie split a soft-shell crab with Allison, and when she wasn’t looking, decided to eat her half too. I don’t blame him, honestly. You know how sometimes fried foods can be overly greasy and heavy? Absolutely nothing they fried had that problem. Everything was so crispy and light and delicious it was unreal. It makes me want to be a better cook.

"I Never Want to Leave"    -- Evan

Glenda took center stage on the next course, busting out one of the finest-tasting steaks I have had in this town. I knew one of Movie Star’s famous ribeyes had to be on the horizon, and they did not disappoint. Our fourth course of the night was a beautiful 12-oz. ribeye – cooked medium rare – that just melted in your mouth. It comes paired with any steak’s best friend – a loaded baked potato. The char on the steak was something you don’t see too often anymore in restaurant steaks.

So often you get a steak that was seared on a flat top and baked in an oven for a minute or two depending on your preferred temperature. But this steak was different. Tasting those gorgeous grill marks lets you know just how much care actually went in to cooking the cut of meat to perfection. As it turns out, we weren’t done with perfectly cooked beef.

Out came two of Movie Star’s specialties – a slow-cooked brisket on one plate, and next to it four bowls of something we didn’t expect to find so mind blowing. We’ll get to those in a bit. The brisket was described as their pride and joy and it was easy to see why.

Their process includes using both a dry rub and a marinade, slow cooked until it just falls apart on the plate. It was fantastic, and the second I saw that plate I wished I had actually followed through and worn stretchy pants. Had it not been for my modesty, I would have eaten the entire plate and fended off Allison, Jamie, and Brittany’s attempts to get a piece with my fork and knife.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what I consider to be the real star of the show – Darian’s mashed potatoes. I forgot to get the correct spelling of Darian’s name, so I sure hope I did it right. If I didn’t, and you’re reading this, please understand that I was so enamored by your beautiful mashed potatoes that I just forgot. Darian wasn’t willing to tell us his exact recipe, and I don’t blame him, because these were undoubtedly the fluffiest, softest, most delicious mashed potatoes I have ever had. They were so buttery and dreamy it is impossible for me to accurately describe them. I would bathe in them. I would fill my pillowcases with them. I would sooner invite a bowl of those mashed potatoes to go on vacation with me than I would certain members of my own family. I love them. I love them like a child. Darian, I need you to know that they changed me. No other will ever do.

At this point, the restaurant was filling up, and we were too. I don’t think any of us were accurately prepared for what happened that night, but all of us were appreciative that it had. If you haven’t been to Movie Star – go now. Put the magazine down, leave your house or the dentist’s office or other restaurant or wherever you are reading it, and RUN to Movie Star if for nothing else than to get a bowl of Darian’s unreal mash (but also for literally everything else).

You’re going ro love it.

That’s a Professor Jinglepocket guarantee.