Rundon't walkto Luella's Southern Kitchen ( 4609 N. Lincoln Ave.; www.luellassouthernkitchen.com/ ).
It starts with the vibe, courtesy of Ernie Barnes portraits ( the most famous being in the opening credits of the '70s TV show Good Times ) and the music, which is basically classic soul. Tunes wafting from the speakers when my friend and I visited included "You Make Me Feel Brand New" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." We were singing along in no time.
However, even if the music is not your thing, the food is enticement enough. Luella's ( and, yes, there's an actual Luellachef Darnell Reed's 91-year-old great-grandmother ) has switched to its spring menu, which includes seasonal iced teas, such as the tasty blood-orange variety we had.
The main menu items are simply wonderful. The chicken gumbo ( with dark roux, Creole seasoning, andouille sausage and Carolina Gold rice ) feels like a warm hugalthough my friend wished the dish had a little more rice. As for the BBQ brisket mac and cheese, it's heaven in a bowl; it was just cheesy enough and the brisket was perfectly cooked. I also liked the buttermilk biscuits, although I preferred them without the sorghum drizzle.
There are other items that warrant a return visit. Among the offerings are she-crab soup ( with mussel broth ), bourbon chicken and waffles, oyster po' boys, catfish tacos and Lowcountry shrimp and crab boil.
Dessert items are just as captivatingalthough there are only two options. There are beignets that warrant care, as they are dusted generously with confectioners' sugar. Then, there's the sublime blackberry hand pie that's coupled with salted caramel ice cream.
Reed told Savor that he regularly travels to cities such as New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina, for inspiration. Here's to continuing that habithe has certainly brought the best of the South to the Midwest.
Three Piggly Wiggly
Speaking of the South and the Midwest, Piggly Wiggly is a supermarket chain that I seemingly visited a lot in my youth. It's also the name of a meat-licious sandwich ( full name: The Three Piggly Wiggly ) that Delightful Pastries + Cafe offers.
Promoted as an item that's for those suffering hangovers, it consists of layers of bacon, locally sourced Polish ham and pan-fried pork cutlet on a house-baked buttered everything bun with your choice of five sauces and pickles slices. ( A fried egg can be added. ) However, there are other options for those not so pork-inclined, including turkey, egg, fish, veggie and vegan offerings.
Visit www.delightfulpastries.com .