I grew up on a farm in the Deep South in a family that has lived there for hundreds of years. And not only did my Grandmother have a cafe, but she was well known as one of the best Southern cooks in the area, so, perhaps, I am a bit spoiled as far as Southern cooking is concerned. But, from all the great reviews I've read about this place I expected some really good food. What I had today was just awful and I'm having a hard time believing that whoever cooked it is from the South.
I started with the Fried Green Tomatoes and they were the best part of my meal.
I also had the Chicken Fried Steak with Collards, Black Eyed Peas and Okra. This was supposed to be served with a piece of cornbread, but what arrived was a super thin, hard pancake looking item that wasn't tasty at all and didn't resemble any cornbread or corn pone or hoe cake I've ever eaten.
The Chicken Fried Steak was mushy and tasted much like what you get in a cheap frozen dinner and was smothered in a gelatinous brown gravy that I can only believe came out of a can or a jar. Everyone in the South serves Chicken Fried Steak with milk gravy not brown.
The collards were okay, but I was still a bit surprised to see them listed as collard greens on the menu. Perhaps it is a regional thing, but where I'm from no one calls them collard greens, just collards. It's a bit redundant to say collard greens since you never eat the collard roots. You refer to a combination of collards, mustard and turnips as greens, but you'd never call just collards or just mustard, collard greens or mustard greens. I know this sounds picky, but it just struck me as out of place.
Also, in the South, whenever any type of greens are served, there is always a bottle of pepper sauce on the table. I'm not referring to Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce, though that should be there too, and it was, although it was extremely difficult to get it out of their proprietary bottle, what I'm referring to is a bottle of whole, small peppers bottled in vinegar that's allowed to sit for a time so that the vinegar gets flavored from the peppers. Then the pepper sauce is sprinkled over the greens, or whatever else you want to douse with it. After you've emptied and refilled the vinegar a few times, the peppers will have mellowed enough that you can enjoy them with the greens, too.
The black eyed peas were "vegetarian", which is so wrong and tasteless that I hardly know what to say about them except that they were inedible and worse than any you'd buy in a can. I ate one bite and that was it.
Finally, it was apparent that the okra was a pre-packaged frozen product that had just been fried.
All in all I was extremely disappointed and I truly do not understand all the positive reviews for this restaurant, especially those by folks who claim to be Southerners themselves.
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