Honey mustard reminds me of childhood, specifically this restaurant, Ray’s on the River, outside of Atlanta. Apparently, it opened in 1984. We moved there in 1985, and my dad bought a piano “for the family.” What that meant was that my brother and I were signed up for piano lessons, with mandatory yearly recitals that involved being dressed up, playing horrible dreck in front of a crowd of the parents and other kids, and then going out to dinner as a family. While piano recitals were decidedly not my thing (I was a competent student, but I’m not a performer), this was the kind of dinner out that I actually really liked. We always went to Ray’s for “nice” dinners out — celebrations of some sort. Ray’s had a jazz band in the bar (and this was well before children were banished from bars — we got Shirley Temples and got to listen), a view of the muddy Chattahoochee River, and the best chicken fingers I’ve ever eaten. They had a crispy, light, almost tempura-esque coating which I never could replicated, not even with all the allergens in the world. They were served with a “fancy” honey mustard sauce, which was not like the gluey opaque salad bar version of honey mustard (which is mayonnaise-based). I’m sure this sauce had real honey and real mustard in it, and not a lot more — and this recipe is my attempt to recreate this flavor of my childhood.
This honey mustard is intended primarily as a salad dressing, but I’ve also cooked salmon, chicken, and potatoes in it with great results. Pick your herbs based on your destination, and you’ll do fine — I prefer the herbes de provence on chicken and salad, and the dill for fish, but the extra dressing never goes to waste no matter which version I make.