''Where to find Southern Cusine in the Northwest''
- Rex Rowland May 2, 2000 05:08 AM
Two years ago I discovered 'Kingfish Cafe' at 19th and Mercer on Capitol Hill. I was invited and didn't know what to expect. Not only was the atmosphere elegant, large old black and white photographs of relatives, and simple but the food was out of this world and brought back memories of my southern upbringing. First off expect to wait! People start lining up outside at 5:30 pm to make sure and get a table when the doors open at 6 pm. Otherwise you will be waiting. But this gives you time to enjoy an ice cold India Pale Ale, look over the menu and meet new people.
All of the food is good and you can tell the owners are from the south. For starters I always get the crab cakes served with a creamy dill sauce. They are gone before you know it. For the main course I always get the catfish. Lightly breaded with a dill sauce on it and served with fried grits and collards. A friend of mine ordered chicken stew and it was incredible as well. It was served in a bowl surrounded by mashed sweet potatoes. Though I never have had it I hear the fried chicken is very good but expect to wait longer for that(just have another India Pale or wine). At other times I have had smothered steak or pork chops.
There are about 10-15 items to choose from and they are all resonably priced. Make sure you save room for desert...they serve large portions.
The cakes are to die for. I have had the lemon cake as well as chocolate cake. Both homemade including the frosting. If they have Red Velvet Cake make sure to tell the waitress to put one aside for you! The only and I mean only drawback is that the collards were almost to spicy hot to eat the last time I was there. Otherwsie everytime I am in Seattle I eat at Kingfish at least once. The restaurant does not advertise and has made it on just word of mouth. No reservations are taken and they take the last customers at nine.
A positive note to this is the staff is truly delightful and you can tell they enjoy working there!
The Kingfish is a great spot, but if you truly love southern food, you must, let me repeat, must go to the Judkins St. Restaurant and Bar-be-que (that is, if it is still there), in the central district, on Judkins, not surprisingly. This place is/was (I haven't been in Seattle for about 5 years) owned by one of the nicest families I've ever had the pleasure to know, and makes soul food as good as any I've had anywhere, and I live in St. Louis now, and have family in Houston and Atlanta. The Iced Tea is super-saturated with sugar, the Barbeque is melt-in-your-mouth good, the greens are perfect, the sweet potatoes are delicious, if they are still making catfish, it is, well, quite unlike the other seafood options in Seattle. You have to hunt for this place, as I recall. It's in a converted house on a non-commercial street, but there is a sign. If you go and it's still there, do post on how it is. One never knows how a restaurant will fare over the years, but it would be nice to hear that it's still there and still serving up the real thing.
re: Gabriel Solis
Here are a couple for the southern Pacific NW (aka Portland)
Doris Cafe...considered a rib joint by most, but it's the rest of the menu that really shines here, especially the cornmeal-breaded fried catfish...details and a short review on my site at:
There are some other reviews of bbq spots on the link to my site below...
Delta Cafe...I'm pasting in a review I wrote for Sidewalk, the Microsoft City Guide that was purchased by CitySearch last fall...the Sidewalk Portland reviews are no longer online, so here's a reprint (in the Sidewalk format):
4607 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR 97206
Despite the proximity to Reed College and the gussied-up Westmoreland business district, gentrification hasnt yet struck this stretch of Woodstock. The squat buildings house a hardware store and pharmacy, with sheet metal awnings and neon that almost qualifies as antique. It feels like the main street of a small town stuck in the 1960s, and if it was hot and humid when you stepped into the Delta Cafe you might believe that you were in some backwater burg where the Big Muddy fans out as it merges with the Gulf of Mexico.
Traditional southern cooking reflects the hardscrabble poverty of the people who cut the cane and picked the cotton. They made the most out of whatever simple ingredients were at hand. Mix cornmeal and water into small doughballs, fry them in lard, and youve got hush puppies. Catfish pulled from the bayou, greens gathered from alongside the cotton fields, okra grown in the garden, and occasionally a slaughtered hog all found their way onto the southern table, and evolved into the type of food served at the Delta Cafe.
Scene: In a word, funky. The young owners of the Delta Cafe started it on a shoestring, but the eclectic assortment of mismatched chairs, linoleum-topped kitchen tables, and thrift store art actually enhances the downhome ambiance. The hideous plastic resin spherical light fixtures in Austin Powers colors sort of go with the loud rockabilly, and a declasse forty-ounce bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer comes up a notch when its resting in a galvanized tin tabletop ice bucket. The mammoth servings and low prices are a big draw to the young, poor, and hungry, and you can expect to wait in line outside for a table most nights.
Bites we like: More humble home cooking than refined restaurant fare, the Deltas offerings occasionally transcend artificial labels like fine dining to prove that good food can be found where you least expect it. The fried okra appetizer, for instance, may be the best rendition ever of this maligned and mistreated vegetable. Cut into bite sized segments, rolled in cornmeal, and quickly cooked in hot oil, the okra arrives still bright green, crisp and crunchy, and unbelievably delicious. The hush puppies are good, too, but the corn and black-eyed pea fritters are a better choice, tender, greaseless, and served with a dip made from more black-eyed peas mixed with green chile and jalapenos. Blackened catfish, darkly encrusted with red pepper and other spices, comes closer to bayou food than most other faux Cajun versions, and the barbecued pork spareribs are smoky and tender. Entrees come with a choice of sides, from earthy collard greens to a rich potato-cheese casserole to a classic red beans and rice. Wash it down with tart lemonade served in a quart mason jar. Come early if you want dessert, because the chocolate cake and nightly pie rarely last until closing.