No one could complain about a lack of flavor or fat in Hotel Hickman's sides. The cowboy beans are what one might imagine being served straight from a frontier chuck wagon--dark, robust, meaty. The "I-44 potatoes" are a rich invention, chunky smashed spuds laced with bacon and cheese, good hot or lukewarm, as takeout tends to become. The macaroni and cheese and coleslaw--the only options for a vegetarian interloper--are perfectly fine. Both the biscuits and cornbread--the former fluffy yet moist, the latter slightly sweet with crispy edges--are delicious. The desserts sound delightful--apple, cherry, or bourbon peach cobbler--but proved to be just doctored canned pie filling. Next time, I'll request an extra cornbread slice or biscuit in lieu of a sweet.
I didn't try Hotel Hickman's breakfast, but it certainly sounds intriguing. Given that breakfast doesn't usually travel well and their seats are restricted to four outside chairs, I may have to eat it from my lap in the car or at the park across the way. But fresh ground sausage, in patties or gravy, and on-site smoked bacon, along with eggs, fried potatoes, and those biscuits or cornbread, sound well worth the inconvenience.
Smokehouse 52 BBQ, right on Chelsea's Main Street, has plenty of chairs--and tables, a bar, and full service. The interior, a pleasant hash of brick, wood, and metal, gives the sense of a dressy barbecue joint. The menu, though, ranges far from the pit, with appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and even fish listed alongside pork, brisket, and chicken.