The Kingfish Cafe doesn't take reservations, but we were immediately seated against a window. I hear there is often a wait, but we arrived early, and the day after Thanksgiving seems to be very quiet everywhere.
Drinks first, and I couldn't decide between the Two Sista's Cocktail or the Mint Julep. I feel like there's a pretty good Southern accent still deep within me, but Dear Ben laughed when I said, "Two Sista's," so in an effort to bring the soul back, that's what I ordered. Sugar rimmed with Stoli vodka, Peach Schnapps, peach nectar, and a squeeze of lime. Sweet, but not too sweet. I would've ordered a few more if the Babe wasn't waiting at home.
Dear Ben picked the Alabama Old-Fashioned, made from Makers Mark, simple syrup, muddled oranges, and a splash of soda. He loved it, and I have to admit, the sip I stole was a pretty tasty one. I'm going to try to remind him how much he enjoys an Old-Fashioned the next time he can't decide what to order.
And now the food. We ordered a lot of it.
I started with the Sho'Nuff Fried Green Tomatoes. As far as I'm concerned, any Southern cook knows the value of a corn meal batter, and that's just what these slices of green tomatoes were dredged in. They were jazzed up with garlic and chipotle sauces, and sweet hushpuppies were there to bless the plate. The tomatoes were some of the best I've had outside of the south. The hushpuppies, however, were a tad too sweet for me; I prefer jalapenos in mine, please.
Dear Ben started with a cup of the Crawfish and Corn Chowder. It's made in-house with fresh corn, chunky veggies, and crawfish. It's a white chowder, and you know what that means... it's not only rich in flavor, but rich in calories as well. It was good, but not spectacular.
I just could not decide what I wanted for my main course. Everything sounded good, but in the end, I opted for the farm raised catfish. It was the cornmeal batter that reeled me in again, and I was intrigued by the fact that they marinate it overnight.
Unfortunately, the fish did not live up to my expectations. I envisioned several fish filets deep fried in thick, crispy batter, just like the plates of fish that I grew up eating. This looked like the dieter's plate compared to my childhood memory. Perhaps it's a sign that I shouldn't eat that way anymore, and to be fair, the filet was of generous size. It was the coating that was most disappointing. Maybe it was the juice from the greens that soaked in causing the batter to lean into the soggy side. Serve juicy sides in a separate dish, please. Dear Ben ate up what I didn't finish. The greens and grits were good though.
I knew exactly what Dear Ben would get from the moment I looked at the menu. Grandpa Walter's Roast Pork Chop. Dear Ben loves pork chops, and he also has a Grandpa Walter. It was a sign. The huge rib chop was, "slow roasted with garlic and spices..., then topped with an autumn fruit chutney." Sounded right up his alley! The plate is served with collard greens and mashed potatoes, and Dear Ben did a good job finishing it.
I just couldn't stop myself in the frenzy of ordering. We ordered several sides. I couldn't stand it if I didn't at least try the Red Beans and Rice and their Down Home Mac and Cheese, and just for fun, I threw in the Roasted Red Yam.
The Red Beans are cooked slowly with tasso and andouille sausage, and the rice was perfectly fluffy. It was a good plate, but not my favorite red beans and rice ever. I surely wish the chunks of sausage were bigger. We ate a few bites while they were hot, but ended up taking them home. They were good leftover.
The Down Home Mac and Cheese was down right delicious! It must be piled into the pan about five inches deep. It's quite a sight! They use two cheeses, onions, and mushrooms. The onions and mushrooms are not overpowering at all. The cheese truly was the star. The cheese sauce on top reminded me of Morrison's Cafeteria macaroni in Greenville, Mississippi (sadly, now closed), but this plate was SO much better. The only reason I wouldn't order this as a main course is that it's served with only a salad, and I really like those Southern sides.
As an afterthought of side, the roasted red yam sure was delicious. Dear Ben and I both loved the buttery, creamy yam served right in his skin. It doesn't look like much in the picture, but it might have been the best yam I've ever had. I should make this at home!
As if you didn't need to roll us out of there already, we ordered dessert. I wasn't blown away by the choices. We ordered the chocolate cake with cream cheese icing because that's the only thing that seemed worth getting. There was a caramel cake of some kind that sounded pretty good, but the waitress didn't recommend it.
When the cake came out, I was relieved that we hadn't ordered two desserts. Take a look at that picture. It's gigantic! The cake was cold, but I like cold cake. Cold cake, however, is usually a bit on the dry side, and this was no exception. It was dolled up with chocolate sauce, pretty strawberries, and lots of icing - so the dryness was forgiven. I'll probably stop at the pie shop next door for dessert next time though.
The night was filled with highs and not-so-highs, but we enjoyed the night nonetheless. I really wish they had okra and black-eyed peas on their menu. I think they should look into that.
The Kingfish Cafe
602 19th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112-4009