African American

Carolina Kitchen (Hyattsville, MD)

“Welcome, welcome, wellcccooommmeeee”. When’s the last time you’ve been greeted that way when entering a dining establishment? Well, besides Chic-Fil A, because I honestly believe they’d wash your car while you’re food was being prepared if possible, but that’s here nor there.  No, I’m talking about this soul food restaurant that prides itself on quality of food, family atmosphere, and a great experience.  I’ve been to plenty of soul-food restaurants that provide you with great food but lack service and respect, so you can imagine how amazed I was when I was able to receive all three.

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I was able to speak with General Manager, Dawn Moss who gave me a brief introduction and insights about the restaurant.  We spoke about Lance London, the owner of this establishment, who is stated to be very meticulous on how the food, appearance, and ambiance is presented at the establishments. Dawn has been with the company close to twenty years and has known Lance longer than that.  I can tell that her values are very identical to Mr. London’s as her approach and mentality to leading the restaurant is one of the reasons why it’s so successful today.  Did I mention how Dawn was Miss Black USA in 1996.  How cool is that?   I love when people try to downplay their accomplishments, it makes them so modest, but I’m the type where if I think something is cool, I’ll blow it out of proportion all day.  Accomplishments should always be celebrated, no matter how old or new they are.  Management definitely picked the right person to lead their restaurant, as she was knowledgeable in the industry and demonstrated how a leader should act and respond in restaurant settings.

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We discussed different things such as how long she’s been in the industry to how they like to develop talent from within.  Developing talent from within really impresses me because it shows that they are willing to train and build up talent from the ground up.  I’ve heard so many stories about how companies want you to have fifteen years of experience just to be a waiter/waitress or another twenty-five years experience to become a chef.  I’m exaggerating on the years, but you understand where I’m coming from.  This restaurant now has four locations in the DMV area, with locations in Washington, D.C., Hyattsville, Largo, and its newest location in Brandywine.  Dawn explained to me how hiring people with positive attitudes are key for them being so successful.  They have employees that have been working at the location since 1998 to employees who have been there for over three years.  Instead of hiring new staff to learn the system when opening new locations, they’ve adopted the thought of taking seasoned veterans in an already established location and sending them to the new location to become one of the leaders for that store.

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The interior of the restaurant has a southern style feel to it with an amazing bar area.  There are different areas where you can come in after work to “lounge” and have a couple appetizers, or if you’re in a rush, they have a cafe-style section where you can get your food to go to enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. It also has vibrant colors, where at night time the lights dim for more of a comfort feel to it.

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I was able to order around seven dishes because I wanted to try everything they had on the menu.  Unfortunately, my stomach isn’t as big as my eyes so I have to be cognizant of that, otherwise food would go to waste, and who wants to have that happen?  The items that were ordered were the Fried Lobster tail, shrimp, and crab balls platter, Fried Green Tomatoes, Jerk Wings, Macaroni and Cheese, Candied Yams, Potato Salad, Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Catfish, and Smothered Fried Chicken.  I guess I just lied to you, right?  You really thought I was going to leave this restaurant and not try everything in sight? HA! Jokes on you.  I had to start off with some drinks though, below is a picture.  If you’ve had a long day, get either of the two!

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The Dirty South

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Georgia Tea

Let’s start with the Fried Lobster Tail, Shrimp, and Crab Balls Platter.  I’m going to be honest with you, as I am in all of my posts, I loathe those who think that lobster should be fried.  What posses you to fry something so tender, delicate, and flavorful?  Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decided you didn’t like the lobster anymore?  Or did you want to put a “twist” on your own version of how lobster should be prepared?  I absolutely HATE (and yes I know that’s a strong word) Lobster being fried……. Until… Today! Whyyyyyyyy haven’t I tried fried lobster before?  What was I thinking?  Could I be that small minded to not understand how lobster could be fried in a better with blended seasons and cooked to perfection?  I love the fact that I can walk into a restaurant and leave questioning myself as to why it took me so long to try a specific dish.  The lobster was one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had.  The fried shrimp and crab balls were equally tasteful, but the fried lobster spoke to my soul.  I would literally go back just for that platter and leave, but I love food so that’ll never happen.

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Next up we have the Jerk Wings and Fried Green Tomatoes.  If you love spicy food then these wings are right up your alley.  They give you a nice portion size for it to be an appetizer but the seasonings that they put on the wings are unjustly.  I’ve had jerk wings before and they were good, but to have wings melt in your mouth and the meat fall off the bone is on another level.  For the price of the wings, how could you pass this item up?  I don’t want to call you a fool, but, only fools would pass this item up.  The Fried Green Tomatoes were good as well, although I wouldn’t have added the shredded cheese on top, it still doesn’t take away the flavors presented with the quantity and size of the tomato.  The tomatoes came with a remoulade sauce that was a perfect dipping sauce for the tomatoes.  It added a hint of spiciness to go with the sweetness of the tomato. I was raised on Fried Green Tomatoes so anytime it’s offered at a restaurant, I can’t pass them up.

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Next we have the veggie platter.  I wanted to try side dishes that they are known for so I can explain how mouthwatering, flavorful, and cheesy these items were.  First up we have the macaroni and cheese.  I love macaroni and cheese especially when it’s cheesy.  What’s the point of ordering macaroni and cheese if it lacks cheese?  It would then be noodles and cheese.  Don’t play with your stomach in that negative manner, provide your stomach what it needs.  Imagine your grandmothers grandmother cooking macaroni and cheese for you.  This is exactly what it taste like.  Second we have the potato salad.  It’s March, but think of eating potato salad on the fourth of July outside in the backyard with your family, music, and love floating around in the air.  Doesn’t it taste better?  I don’t have the correct words to describe how flavorful this potato salad was, but if I had to describe it in one it would be refreshing.  Third we have the candied yams.  I love candied yams and I’m still trying to learn how to make them from my grandmother, but she doesn’t use recipes or measuring combinations.  Do you know how challenging it is when someone tells you to “eye ball” the salt in a dish?  There’s no perfect answer to that, it’s like they don’t really want you to know what’s in the dish; that’s exactly how I feel about how these yams that were made.  The candied yams had so much flavor, I would argue that they were simmered overnight and had a tablespoon or two more sugar added than normal.  The candied yams weren’t too hard, but weren’t too mushy, as they provided the right amount of texture for enjoyment.  Last but not least we have the collard greens.  Dawn explained to me that the collard greens are constantly made because it’s one of the best selling items, and that they take around four hours to make.  I can tell that they’re very adamant about being perfect with this dish because there’s no other way to describe how juicy these collard greens were.  You can literally go to this restaurant and order the veggie dish and be satisfied with the outcome, but we’re not vegetarians, we’re carnivorous!  We need meat!  Speaking of…

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Meat! Yes, smother fried chicken.  Did you read that right?  Smothered Fried Chicken.  I’ve had smothered chicken before, but not fried.  It sent my taste buds on another level.  The gravy that topped the chicken was juicy, infused with the right amount of seasonings, buttery, and tantalizing.  Sometimes they gravy makes the chicken soggy, but not in this case.  The Fried Chicken still had a crunch to it, and before every bite my mouth would water.  This isn’t the general way the smothered chicken is cooked but if you ask for it fried, I’m sure they could accommodate you.

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Last but not least we have the fried catfish dinner.  I ordered the fried catfish with a side of cabbage and black eyed peas.  The catfish was huge and you would feel as though you’re getting an amazing deal after you order this item.  The item comes with rice, but I opted not to have rice on my dish because I thought that would be too much to go with the cabbage and black eyed peas.  The cabbage was sweet, buttery, and if my taste buds serve me correctly, I believe I tasted a hint of sugar in them.  I could be wrong, but my taste buds never let me down.  The black eyed peas were equally as wonderful providing an extra smokiness to the dish and an earthy texture.  This dish was very satisfying as it was one of my favorite meals throughout the day.

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Overall this restaurant is a must if you’re in the DMV area.  My particular location was the Hyattsville location, and if you’re on a date or looking for something to do after lunch or dinner, there’s a movie theater next door to the restaurant.  If you’re looking for some traditional soul food then this is your place to go.  Of course, let me know what you think, I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

 

OVERALL RATING : BUSINESS CLASS

 

 

 

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