A couple weeks ago, while panhandling for gold in Northern Florida, (Soul Food Gold) that is; I paid a visit to The Potters house ‘Soul Food Bistro’ in Jacksonville, Florida. It was recommended by a friend and longtime resident of Jacksonville. The ‘Soul Food Bistro is a 300 seat restaurant located on the west side of Jacksonville.
There’s a tall story behind the restaurants current location. This is the kind of stuff movies are made about. Here is the short version. Through the vision and direction of Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin, in November 2002, the Potters House Ministry took possession of a 48-acre, 376,000 square feet shopping complex formerly known as Normandy Mall. Today it is known as ‘Kingdom Plaza’. This restaurant was at another location for seven years before moving to Kingdom Plaza.
The Soul Food Bistro along with all of the other businesses in the mall are owned and operated by church members. What an amazing story of faith, perseverance, community development and empowerment. It has received County, State, National and International recognition. It stands as an example to the World. For the full story, click the link at the bottom of the page, only after you’ve read my review. Lol
Parking: The restaurant is located in a shopping mall, so there is ample parking. However, after Sunday Worship services, you may have to trade a catfish dinner for a parking space; especially if it’s my parking space.
Service: I found the staff to be very courteous and customer service focused. The restaurants food service style can be described as modern cafeteria. That is to say; get your butt in line and grab a tray if you want to eat. The food service line forms at the left and moves to the right. The line team is very efficient and the line moves very quickly. While in line, I heard a stern, Drill Sergeant like voice. She said; “customers are in line, I want to see that line move, let’s move, let’s move”! I immediately turned my attention to the direction of the voice. ‘Sarge’ wasn’t smiling. For a second, I thought she was talking to me. I was ready to grab an apron and get busy. Lol The food service Manager was barking cadence to the line staff; they responded. Customer service is obviously a key component of the restaurants management philosophy.
Food: “MAN, let me tell you something. When the food looks good, plant your back foot and swing for the bleachers”. I ordered Fried Chicken, Them Poke Chops, Whiting, Greens, Black Eye Peas, Butter Beans, Mac & Cheese and Candied Yams. Everyone has a story to tell about their Fried Chicken or their Mama’s Fried Chicken. I’ve heard it all! If you’ve ever read any of my publications, you know one thing for certain. ‘I take no prisoners’ Today is no different. You need more than Chicken and hot oil to make good Fried Chicken. Frying is an art form.
The Fried Chicken at ‘Soul Food Bistro’ is the artistic work of Chef Celeste. Celeste knows how to fry her some Yard bird! The Fried Chicken gets a ‘GO Sista’. The Poke Chops got an eight before they hit the plate. The color, seasoning and texture were textbook Old School Soul Food. Those Thangs were Off-Da-Foundation! The Whiting was good but went over a tad. Remedy; Flash fry & finish in the warmer = Moist and Flawless. The Greens were riding in the passenger seat. Greens are King; they like to do their own thing. Less is more. Play call: The Black Eye Peas will take the last shot in overtime. The Butter Beans are ‘Real Deal Holyfield’. This was my favorite side; Get somma Dat! The Yams have a good three ball. I nominate the Mac & Cheese for ‘Sixth Man of the Year’.
For Dessert: Peach Cobbler and Red Velvet Cake
The Peach Cobbler is steeped in History. There are some things you just can’t teach in culinary school. You cannot go wrong with this dish. The Red Velvet Cake lives on ‘Yummy Avenue’! If you don’t have room for dessert, do yourselves a favor and take some home. Highly recommended!
Dollars and Cents: You don’t have to scrape the crumbs out the bottom of your pocket digging for change or dig in your purse and take the chewing gum off your last nickel to pay the check. Lol “If you don’t remember those days you haven’t lived and if you’ve forgotten you get a ‘Chef Emanuel Pimp Slap’, left hand”. Ohh, I’m the only one! Pa-Leeze? I ordered a feast fit for a King and it set me back a whopping 34 Bligettes. If you’re not from Chi-town, I spent $34 dollars including dessert.
What’s Crackin? When dining at ‘The Soul Food Bistro’ Ya Betta move your stomach to the right! The portions are large. You will not leave hungry. The food is the brainchild of Executive Chef and General Manager Celeste, and she is Takin’ No Prisoners either.
The restaurants atmosphere is warm and inviting and has a distinctly southern charm. This is Authentic Soul Food! I highly recommend it! Out of 5 and a possible: The Potters House ‘Soul Food Bistro’ in Jacksonville, Florida gets 4 Damn Yams and a Chef Emanuel ‘That Thang is Good’. To Chef Celeste; ‘Food tells a story, keep telling yours! Keep up the Great Work! I’ll be back soon!
For the full story on the Potters House, please click or copy and paste this link. http://www.potters-house.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=75