Son of a Biscuit Eater

By Steve Cook | March 23rd, 2023

Getting a Rise out of Southern buttermilk biscuits from North Carolina

Southerners have high standards for biscuits. Steve Cook is no exception, so he had muted expectations when he tried Rise biscuits.

I come from a long line of biscuit eaters. My father was a biscuit eater. He grew up on the Rappahannock River and helped his father and grandfather in the fishing business. When he’d head out to the boat to spend a day helping them, his mother would fix them all a lunch of hard biscuits complemented with a can of pork and beans. Frankly, that sounds disgusting. But he used to tell me that it was his favorite meal. Although I can handle a hard biscuit, I prefer the soft flaky kind that melts in your mouth, though I am a firm believer that a hard biscuit is better than no biscuit at all.

I grew up on my grandmother’s biscuits and redeye gravy, which she called sop. I loved her sop probably even more than I loved her biscuits. Don’t get me wrong. Her biscuits were fantastic. I almost said they were amazing, but I have made a resolution not to use the word amazing this year when describing food.

But back to the biscuits. My grandmother’s biscuits were light and flaky but not too flaky.

I guess my mother learned to make biscuits from her mother because, around my house, sausage biscuits were a popular breakfast treat.

For a sweet treat, my mother also used to put some sort of sugary glaze on the biscuits, which were ama…, I mean delectable. Long after she came up with her sweet drizzled biscuits, some woman won a Pillsbury recipe contest for virtually the same thing my mother had been making for years.

As the years passed and fast food joints began to spring up all over town, I used to love to go to Hardee’s for their biscuits. Didn’t they have a commercial featuring a character who would talk about getting up in the middle of the night to bake those tasty biscuits? Anyway, that was yesterday and, as Chad and Jeremy would say, yesterday’s gone.

Hardee’s biscuits are nowhere as good as they used to be. In my somewhat less than humble opinion, it’s hard to find a great biscuit anymore. However, the other day, I actually discovered what may be the perfect biscuit.

I was out in Short Pump with my wife and we were looking for a good place to go for breakfast. I had had an early doctor’s appointment and since I had only gained about three pounds, I figured I’d celebrate by eating breakfast out. We chanced upon Rise biscuits (aka, Southern Biscuits, Righteous Chicken) at 11561 W. Broad St.

To tell you the truth, I probably would not have gone in had I known they were a franchise. I’m kind of snooty that way. I only found out later that they are a regional chain out of North Carolina. And continuing with my determination to tell you the truth, I’ll say that once I did go in, I started to turn around and leave. You have to order via a computer. There was a nice enough woman standing there who could answer questions but don’t expect her to actually take a pad and write down your order. Oh yeah, you have to order at a counter, too; something else I hate.

Now, while I’m complaining about the ordering system, the folks that make Rise biscuits are bragging about it. Their website boasts, “The Rise ordering and pickup process is streamlined to get customers their orders quickly and efficiently.” If you say so. To me, there’s nothing more efficient than speaking with a real, live, nice human being. But, then, I’m old fashioned.

Rise ham biscuit I was at first put off by the prices. A sausage biscuit was $4.75. It seems like it was only last week that Hardee’s was offering two sausage biscuits for a buck. But it’s probably been a bit longer than that.

To be fair, while the prices were a bit higher than they were say back in the ’60s, they were probably fair given today’s economy. After hemming and hawing and irritating the folks behind me who had to use the same computer that I was using, I finally settled on the ham biscuit.

The wait wasn’t too long, but we did have to wait a bit. But hold on. This is where the story turns good.

My ham biscuit arrived. My wife and I had taken a couple stools at a counter in a little hallway down by the restroom. Sounds very romantic, doesn’t it?

I opened the bag and was very impressed with the size and appearance of both the ham and the biscuit. The slice of ham was so large it stuck out of the biscuit on all sides. I like that. I get to eat my way to the biscuit. The ham was delicious.

Finally, my teeth sunk into the biscuit. This, my friend, was the perfect biscuit. It was light. It was slightly flaky, but, most importantly, this buttery buttermilk biscuit was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It may not be the best biscuit I’ve ever had, but it’s definitely the best biscuit I’ve had in the last couple of decades.

Yes, I hate the computer system. I hate the impersonal (but nice enough) service, but I absolutely love the biscuits. I will go back … frequently.

Rise blueberry biscuits fresh out of the oven
Glaze and blueberries galore in these Rise biscuits

Before we left, my wife ventured back to the computer and ordered one of their blueberry biscuits. Wow! It was astounding. It had the same sweet glaze that my mother used to drizzle on her biscuits over 60 years ago. And it was filled with plenty of sweet blueberries, all encased in their fantastic buttermilk biscuit.

Think of the best donut you ever had (oh yeah, they also offer donuts at Rise) but change that donut into the perfect biscuit and that’s what this was.

My dad may have preferred his cold, hard biscuits with his cold, disgusting pork and beans, but I have a feeling that if he were around today and he were to try the Rise biscuits, the only word he could have come up with to describe this delicacy would be…, well, it would have to be “amazing!”

Get your Rise biscuits in Short Pump
11561 W. Broad St., Richmond
Open daily, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Steve Cook has lived in the Richmond area for most of his life, working as a writer and editor and in marketing and radio. He loves to keep abreast of the local restaurant scene and researches the subject voraciously. “I used to think I was a foodie,” he says, “but then I realized I just like to eat a lot.” He once co-hosted a local Richmond restaurant radio program with BOOMER editor Annie Tobey. Steve completed his first novel in 2017 and says he hopes to read another one this year.

You can read more of Steve’s contributions to Boomer here.

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