26 October 2009

Decade-Long Anticipation: Kingfish Cafe

It was a date nearly a decade in the making.

On Sunday night, amidst the latest rain-and-wind storm, we made our way to north Capitol Hill for a toasty, down-home meal at Kingfish Cafe. Finally. I've literally been wanting to eat at this soul food treasure since the place first opened nearly 10 years ago.

Back then, when sisters Laurie and Leslie Coaston opened the joint, the line for a table was ages long. Friends raved about the food - but also warned there wasn't much, if anything, for true vegetarians to taste. Save for cake, which we'll get to in a moment.

Whether the menu has truly changed (along with my own tastes - I now eat fish), or whether friends simply weren't reading it completely, I cannot confirm. What I can confirm is my tastebuds were prickling with excitement over the multiple veggie and fish-friendly items on the menu.

Our table selected a starter of fried-green tomatoes. We couldn't resist their notion - so unexpected and rare in this part of the country. They came fried in a delicate cornmeal coating and smothered in a variety of spicy and cream sauces. Also, a few of the house-made hushpuppies joined the toms on the plate. They, too, were fried and smothered and delicious.

They also went well with my Two Sistas Cocktail - a sweet, but not overly so, blend of peach schnapps, vodka, and lime.

For my entree, I selected the mac and cheese. Our history goes way back. It's the only "vegetarian" item that reportedly lived on the menu for a while, so I've been dreaming of it for years. Folks debate whether it really is veggie; it wasn't marked explicitly as such on the menu, yet I didn't taste any meats. It could have a secret chicken-stock base, though if it did, I didn't notice. The thing came out on my plate cut the size of a brick. I didn't leave one drop.

My husband selected a spanking delicious trio of hoppin' john cakes - an assortment of veggies mashed and formed into circular patties, like 3 gardenburgers in a way. Both of our meals came with a sizeable salad on the same plate, making each of these a steal of a deal.

Our cohorts ordered some meaty items - the pork chop and the gumbo. I didn't sample either, but both looked divine. Especially that hurkin' huge chop.

For dessert, we'd been told "Get the Red Velvet Cake" by so many friends. What we didn't know, until after, is that it's wise to order this delicacy when you sit down - because the house sometimes runs out. True to form, we ordered the RVC, only to be immediately revisited by our waitress, who sheepishly let us know the last piece had just been cut and served.

The butterscotch cake, served in its place, was a mighty bit sweet for me, but the rest of our table devoured it. Good thing there were 4 of us. The piece of cake was gargantuan (I couldn't even frame the entire piece in my photo!). Dolled up with two huge piles of whipped cream that I initially mistook for ice cream, it was obvious that Kingfish Cafe is serious about its dessert!

This was a case of expectations being pleasantly met after a long, long bout of anticipation. I just hope it doesn't take me another decade to return.

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to go here too, for nearly three years! It's near my house, I pass it all the time.

    If you ever want company for a repeat visit...and thanks for the tip on preordering the cake!