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Rack & Soul and Charles Southern Kitchen

Jim Leff May 20, 2011 11:22 AM

Has anyone parsed out the hours Charles Gabriel is at Rack&Soul and when he's at Charles Southern Kitchen? I'd eat anything he cooked me, including styrofoam pellets, but both places have disappointed when he's not actually there.

I've also heard reports that his Southern Kitchen is closed. True?

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Charles' Country Pan-Fried Chicken
2837 8th Ave, New York, NY 10039

Rack & Soul
258 West 109th St., New York, NY 10025

  1. m
    mahler5 May 20, 2011 01:30 PM

    At 109th at least, the mains have always been delicious and the sides awful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mahler5
      Jim Leff May 20, 2011 03:42 PM

      Not at all denying your experience, but, FWIW, if Charles is cooking, everything he touches is supernal.

      1. re: Jim Leff
        ChiefHDB May 20, 2011 04:15 PM

        I second mahler5, the sides are awful at Rack and Soul-- except for the beans. Everything I ate at Charles Pan Fried Chicken was significantly better and I got the ayce deal, which was practically a steal.

    2. salvati May 20, 2011 04:50 PM

      Charles' Pan Fried is alive and well. I was up there a couple of weeks ago. Charles was in the house and the chicken was fine.

      3 Replies
      1. re: salvati
        el jefe May 25, 2011 09:14 AM

        Salvati, can you please be a little more specific? When was "a couple of weeks ago"? I was at Charles' Pan-Fried Chicken on May 3rd and it was closed by the DOH. I'm only asking about the restaurant, not the take-out next door.

        1. re: el jefe
          a
          Alan Henderson May 26, 2011 08:18 AM

          It was re-opened by the DOHMH on May 5.

          1. re: Alan Henderson
            el jefe May 28, 2011 10:39 AM

            Many thanks.
            It's great for my waistline that my timing was so bad but I'm disappointed that I missed one of my rare opportunities to pig out at Charles.

      2. DaveCook May 28, 2011 04:31 PM

        Mr. Gabriel is uptown weekdays and at Rack & Soul Saturday and Sunday. Though I wouldn't attempt to pin down precise hours, arriving in the early afternoon or just before dinner primetime might be best.

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        Rack & Soul
        258 West 109th St., New York, NY 10025

        1 Reply
        1. re: DaveCook
          Jim Leff May 28, 2011 06:06 PM

          Nice. Thanks, Dave.

        2. tbone Jun 1, 2011 03:20 PM

          I was at Rack and Soul on Saturday May 21st, late afternoon/early evening and it was better than ever! The pork ribs were perfect, the fried chicken amazing, and the sides spectacular! Had okra, collard greens, beans with burnt ends, and a waffle! Even the biscuits at the beginning of the meal were flaky and buttery. I don't know if Charles was there however, the kitchen was cooking on all burners!! Can't wait to go back!!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: tbone
            Jim Leff Jun 1, 2011 08:39 PM

            As a trombonist, I'm inclined to take seriously anyone with your nametag!

            I'll try yo get there next Saturday. Charles is consistently brilliant when he's actually cooking the food...

          2. theeatenpath Jun 6, 2011 09:59 AM

            Charles once broke down his routine for me (this was a little over a year ago, but seemed to apply the last couple times I've visited). Mon-Thurs he's in the original location for a few hours from opening, runs errands for the rest of the afternoon and returns for dinner. Sometimes he has a catering gig at Columbia or elsewhere, which takes him out of commission for the dinner hour.

            Charles usually takes down himself and does prep for the next day late at night (he also gives surplus food to scrappers before closing the doors). On weekends he checks in at Rack and Soul, but I'm not sure if he is actually cooking during that time (he put it to me as quality control and training of the R&S staff). And is he still cooking at Aretsky's Patroon on Friday evenings? If so, he'll be holed up there for the entire day.

            I hope that helps a bit. I am relieved to know that Charles is still up and running on Frederick Douglass!

            3 Replies
            1. re: theeatenpath
              DaveCook Jun 6, 2011 11:01 AM

              All good to know. I didn't press Charles for so much detail when I spoke with him on a recent Saturday, at Rack and Soul. I'll note, though, that he was wearing chef's whites that had been freshly unwhitened, and that we had to bump knuckles because he was still wearing gloves.

              1. re: DaveCook
                h
                howo5 Jun 6, 2011 12:36 PM

                This is interesting to note, as when I went to R & S about a year and half ago on a weekday for lunch the fried chicken was cold and in-edible. I haven't returned since, but this thread is luring me back.

                Funny enough, I went to Charles's Southern Kitchen on a weekend last fall and found the chicken to be cold and inedible there also. (Like it had been sitting in the warming oven for a day or so)

                Is that the experience here, if you don't go there on the weekend you should expect to be disappointed?

              2. re: theeatenpath
                u
                uwsister Jun 6, 2011 11:18 PM

                I was so disappointed with my pulled pork sandwich from Rack & Soul that I officially crossed them off my list. It was most likely a weekday so maybe it wasn't Charles cooking it - but I think I'll stick to Fette Sau when that rare craving hits.

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