Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I stuffed myself at Kingfish Cafe...

From N.

It was a fried chicken, ribs and mac and cheese kind of weekend. That's what happens when you eat at Kingfish Cafe. There's no way around having the biggest, heaviest meal imaginable and loving every bite.

Kingfish is legendary, at least among people I know. It's one of Seattle's few Southern spots, and wins the award for biggest portions in Seattle, including massive slices of cake. But I have never indulged in dessert because by the time I've gotten through a plate of food, I can barely waddle out, let alone consider red velvet.

A couple of friends recently moved from New York to Seattle into an adorable Jolly Rancher house a few blocks from the 19th Avenue business district on Capitol Hill. Kingfish is their neighborhood spot. I hope they are prepared to join a gym.

Kingfish always has a wait, so we started off at the bar. After spending some time in the South, I am a fan of sweet tea and I also have an out-of-character weakness for sugary coffee drinks, but I am strict when it comes to my cocktails. I like them balanced and tart and I like to taste the alcohol. Southern or no, unbearably sweet cocktails are just wrong. And my mint julep ($9) was all kinds of wrong. I could barely detect the Maker's Mark whiskey or the mint buried beneath half a glass of simple syrup. I couldn't even come close to finishing it and O. abandoned hers for an IPA.

Moving on to more pleasant topics, like the food. Sho'Nuff fried green tomatoes and crab and catfish cakes appetizers tempt me every time, but O. and C. had seen the tremendous platters of food float past and I knew better, so we all showed huge restraint. Then decided we were splitting ribs, fried chicken and mac and cheese.

The My Way or the Highway buttermilk fried chicken had a lovely, crisp coating and moist, tender meat, while the brick of Down Home mac and cheese broke apart easily and revealed layered flavors that comes from, surprisingly, just two kinds of cheese. Onion, green pepper and mushrooms are probably the reason. Or maybe it was just a lot of cheese.

The ribs also were fork tender and had a tart, sweet sauce, which merely confirmed that I am not out of the woods yet on my bbq-sauce burnout. The wild green salad that came with the mac and cheese was a bit overdressed, but the potato salad was a nice, creamy counterpoint to the rich barbecue, along with some collard greens.

The menu also includes ribeye steak, pork chops and catfish, but you try saying no to mac and cheese. I'd love to see dishes like shrimp and grits (maybe they do on other nights), and they need to overhaul their cocktail recipes STAT, but Kingfish otherwise is a hugely fun and tasty slice of the South.

Kingfish Cafe
602 19th Ave. E.
Open for dinner seven days a week, lunch on weekdays and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

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