April 1, 2024

Mary’s Kountry Kitchen Puts the ‘Home’ in Homestyle Cooking

4.4 min read| Published On: April 1st, 2024|

By Cindy Peterson

Mary’s Kountry Kitchen Puts the ‘Home’ in Homestyle Cooking

4.4 min read| Published On: April 1st, 2024|

Well, Butter My Biscuit!

Mary Cutlip, owner

Southern comfort food is a celebration of tradition, hospitality and culinary creativity that brings people together with bold flavors whether it’s enjoyed at a family gathering, neighborhood barbecue or cherished local diner.

That’s the feeling you get at Mary’s Kountry Kitchen in Tavares, a diner that instantly evokes the nostalgia of grandma’s kitchen with the smell of bacon, biscuits and burgers in the air.  

The country kitchen was acquired 16 years ago by Mary Cutlip, who has been working in restaurants since she was a teenager and decided she might as well work for herself if she was going to continue in the industry. 

“I originally said no, but after thinking about it, it made sense,” she says. 

In more ways than one. Her husband, Scott, works for the wholesale restaurant food distributor Sysco, which put him in touch with restaurants all over Central Florida. In fact, he delivered to the country kitchen’s previous owners, who made Mary and Scott an offer they couldn’t refuse. 

Spicing it Up

Although country classics are always a safe bet, Mary adds her special twist to them. 

“I don’t consider myself a foodie, but my favorite thing is to bring a classic dish up a notch,” she says. “Originally I was told it wouldn’t sell, that only bacon and eggs is what people want, but after about six months or so of offering the specials, we started adding them to the menu and people were excited.” 

Mary likes to change menu specials, mainly because she doesn’t like cooking the same thing all the time and it gives people more options. For example, she added a prime rib special on Friday nights. And Thursday is Scott’s famous fried chicken night. 

“It takes four days to make the fried chicken, from the brining, draining, buttering, breading and frying,” Mary says. “It’s all done from scratch.”

She also offers many different burger specials like a pimento cheese pork burger, to a Kountry Kowboy burger with juicy black angus topped with cheddar cheese, BBQ caramelized onions and fried jalapeño caps, drizzled with creamy ranch dressing.

Then there’s Mary’s favorite, the kickin’ chicken sandwich with peach chipotle jam, pepper jack cheese, bacon and fried onions on top. 

Each month offers new seasonal specials. 

Breakfast of Champions 

The restaurant opens for breakfast at 6:30am with all the classics and a few surprises. 

There’s pancakes, French toast, bacon and eggs, omelets, breakfast sandwiches and biscuits and gravy, but if you’re feeling extra hungry, try the hearty Hungry Man Kountry skillet with potatoes, your choice of meats, veggies, gravy, cheese and four eggs. There’s also a homemade hash skillet and a meat lover’s skillet on the menu. 

Country-fried steak is another popular option, along with smoked or country ham. And you can’t forget your homemade biscuit. 

Mary’s favorite specials include Eggs Benedict, breakfast totchos (tater tots smothered in gravy, topped with chopped bacon, tomatoes and two eggs, drizzled with queso and green onions), golden-fried chicken biscuit, Cap’n Crunch French toast, Hash Benedict and cinnamon bun pancakes with cinnamon filling and swirled with cream cheese frosting. 

If your mouth isn’t already watering, consider that their breakfast has earned multiple awards, including Orlando Sentinel’s 2017 and 2019 People’s Choice for best diner. Mary’s was also included in WESH 2 News’ Top 5 breakfast places in Central Florida. 

The Best Kept Secret

Mary is best known for her desserts. So much so that “I [heart] Pie” T-shirts are sold in the store. 

Mary’s award-winning pies and cakes are made from scratch, with just the right amount of love. Some of the best sellers include coconut cream pie, chocolate cream and blueberry, but pies sell out like hotcakes here. 

Mary’s Kountry Kitchen typically sells seasonal pies like blueberry, strawberry and peach, but there are always specials like peanut butter pie, lemon cream cheese pie, apple pie, carrot cake and chocolate cake.  

Lunch it up!  

Recipes

Mary’s Burger for Two

  • 2 6 oz. patties of  ground beef
  • 2 brioche buns
  • 2 slices of American cheese
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked
  • toppings of your choice (lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles)
  1. Hand pat the ground beef into two patties.
  2. Cook on a grill to the temperature of your liking.
  3. Add a slice of cheese to each patty.
  4. Grill the inside of the brioche bun for a few minutes until light brown.
  5. Remove each patty and place on the bun.
  6. Top with cooked bacon and toppings of choice.
  7. Our secret is we NEVER use pre-pattied burgers.

Coconut Cream Pie

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup Crisco
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  1. Mix flour and salt together.
  2. Add Crisco.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the Crisco until small pea-like balls form.
  4. Do not over mix!
  5. Add water and mix until it forms a ball (use a fork).
  6. Roll out into a circle and put in a round pie dish.
  7. Bake the shell at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  1. Heat milk and butter to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Beat together eggs, sugar and corn starch using an electric mixer for four to five minutes.
  3. Gradually add the hot mixture of milk and butter and continue mixing.
  4. Add in several additions, not all at once.
  5. Transfer to a sauce pan and cook on medium-low until it thickens.
  6. Stir constantly.
  7. It will take 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and add vanilla.
  9. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for two hours.
  10. Once cool, add to the pie shell and top with homemade whipped cream and flaked coconut. 

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes 

  • pancake mix of your choice or use your favorite scratch recipe
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 6 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp  cinnamon
  • cream cheese glaze
  1. Mix your pancake mix or scratch recipe as normal, adding a little extra cinnamon.
  2. To make the cinnamon swirl, mix together butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Put the swirl in a pastry bag or Ziploc bag to swirl it onto the pancake.
  4. Heat your pan and pour in your pancake mix to form a pancake.
  5. Swirl the cinnamon swirl mix onto the pancake.
  6. Cook and flip when the sides are ready.
  7. Transfer to a plate, add more swirl to the side up. 
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp half and half
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and drizzle on the pancakes after they are done. 

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About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography and video editing.

She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and is a correspondent for The Daily Commercial, LakeFront TV and Beacon College’s PBS talk show, “A World of Difference,” where she received an Anthem Award and Telly Award.

When she isn’t working, Cindy spends time with her husband, Ryan, and son, David, traveling and taking photos of landscapes and wildlife.

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