This is the face of an awesome hush puppy!
Southern cooking really is peasant food, even though when most people think of "peasant food" they think of Italian food. After all, you never hear assholes longing for a villa in Arkansas. Still, because it was traditionally cooked by the poor, southern cuisine qualifies as authentic peasant food.
This is the face of an awesome hush puppy!
You would think peasant food would be relatively cheap even when served in restaurants, but it rarely is. That's because a strange paradox exists in the cooking industry: the shittier the ingredients, the more you can charge for them. Somehow, cassoulet costs more than a porterhouse, even though the beans, sausages, duck confit, and vegetables used in the famous French stew are way cheaper than a slice of a cow's back.
Unfortunately, I forgot where I was going with this argument because I got too high. Instead, I'll just say this: Kingfish Café seems too expensive for what it is.
We started with a cup of the crawfish and corn chowder ($4.50). For that price, we got a cup of rich soup, as smooth as a grifting preacher and as sweet as a tattoo of Iron Man punching Osama bin Laden in the face. The chowder was almost magically light, and not at all gloopy like shitty chowders sometimes are. There were tender chunks of boiled potato, tiny cubes of celery, and plenty of pink cubes of crawfish meat. There were too many loose corn kernels, though; normally I prefer pureed corn because the whole kernels floating in liquid like that always reminds me of puke. But for the most part, the crawfish and corn chowder were pretty tasty.
A side of mac & cheese was $9.75 and it was the "casserole" variety of mac & cheese: more like a dense loaf than a plate of pasta. It was solid enough to come to the table carved into an enormous cube, dripping with a white cheddar sauce. Because they didn't use regular cheddar or American cheese, the mac & cheese was a ghostly white rather than the traditional yield sign yellow. Instead, the Kingfish's mac & cheese looked like a honeycomb made of boogers. Luckily it tasted good: The pasta was firmer than it had any right to be, and the cheese was, surprisingly, pepper jack. Lesser food writers would say that the pepper jack gave the mac & cheese "kick," but I'm way more original than that--so let's say the pepper jack gave the mac & cheese a "punch."
Hush puppies were $5.50. This seemed a bit much, but it was really worth it. That price got us five hushpuppies, deep fried to a warm and reassuring brown, like Morgan Freeman's face. On the inside they were sweet and steamy and just a little grainy, like old pornography.
The entrée list sported dishes with overly "down homey" names like "Miss Choo Choo's Whateverthefuck." We tried to steer clear of these, mostly because I knew I'd be embarrassed when I sat here trying to type it later, and then I end up feeling the way I feel when my parents catch me watching Saved By the Bell.
Instead, we chose a dish with an easy to understand name: the Simply Griddled Catfish (13.75). The catfish fillet was too damn thick. Fried catfish is usually sliced into razor thin fillets so that all you can taste is the fried outside. After all, catfish tastes like halibut that someone kicked around in a playground. Plus, the breading was slimy and didn't stick very well to the fish; it kept sliding all around when I tried to cut it. The herbed grits that accompanied weren't creamy enough, but the collard greens which came with it were tasty. These were as dark green as an evil forest, tender to the bite, still a bit bitter, and with a subterranean heat that didn't overwhelm.
Red Velvet Cake was priced a strangely specific $9.90, but at least you got a monster piece the size of three regular pieces of cake. Only the fattest man, or the most tenacious triathlete, or the hungriest of hungry hungry hippos could have finished that gigantic dessert. The cream cheese frosting was rich but not cloyingly sweet; the reds were red, the velvet was velvety, and it came with sliced strawberries and several minarettes of Chantilly cream.
The peasant food you can get at Kingfish Café is pricier than a real peasant would be able to afford, but it probably tastes better. Plus, real peasants these days don't even eat like that anymore. They don't enjoy classic comfort food like collard greens and catfish. Instead they eat Lunchables and Gogurt. When you put it that way, peasants seem like douchebags. At least back in the day they ate well.
Rating: 6.5 peasants out of 10
Kingfish Café is located at 602 19th Avenue E. For inquiries (they don't take reservations) call 206-320-8757