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Restaurant lunch highlights:

Southern Charm Kitchen

Southern Charm Kitchen

SC: Consistent, fantastic every time

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

SCKsfThere is little doubt in my mind that I was born in the wrong region of the south. Yes, technically, Florida is one of the southern-most states in the U.S., but I would not consider the majority of Florida, especially the southeastern region where I grew up, to be "southern." There is a southern lifestyle I'm talking about; it is certainly found in southern states like Tennessee, Georgia, and Louisiana. I do love southern hospitality and charm, but the biggest thing I love is southern food. I cannot get enough of all types of southern food, from okra and cornbread to collard greens and fried chicken. I may even have an actual food addiction to southern biscuits.

When Southern Charm sprang to life in Gainesville, I was thrilled, yet skeptical. Despite the name and the menu, would this be an enjoyable southern food experience? I have since been a few times and I can say with confidence that southern consistency is certainly their thing: The food is fantastic every single time.

 

SC7.Dessert

My mom and her boyfriend were in Gainesville one Sunday, and I could think of nowhere better to take them than for some cozy comfort food with a twist. Southern Charm is off of Hawthorne Road, so just a few minutes drive from downtown Gainesville, which may not be particularly close for all the uptown residents. On arrival, the small building with about a dozen tables has a cozy, yet airy feel due to all the windows. This past visit there was an unfortunate dirty dish rag smell that seemed to stick to the walls and was perpetuated by a lack of air conditioning, as it was extremely warm for an indoor dining establishment. Nonetheless, I knew I was in for a memorable food experience, so it was hard to complain.

 

SCSandwich

After ordering a round of the raspberry hibiscus iced tea, which, after being diluted with some unsweetened tea, was very refreshing, and a creamy coconut mint julep, the three of us split an order of the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters. My mom is pretty picky, but even she commented how easily these fried balls of pureed black-eyed peas were quite moist and flavorful, especially when dipped in a ketchup-hot sauce mixture that gave an extra kick. My mom's boyfriend settled on the Cheatin Pig sandwich, complete with a blend of corned beef and pulled pork for a very tender BBQ creation with a pulled meat texture. The green fruit coleslaw provided a slightly refreshing contrast to the smoky, bold flavor of the BBQ sauce and was a very tasty rendition. The Sweet N Cajun Fries were heavily seasoned and I was surprised how well the sugar and spice worked together.

 

SCjohn

My mom and I decided to split the Pentacostal Fried Chicken white meat plate, $11.59 (as I have yet to dine in and not order it for myself or eat it from someone else's plate because it is that good) and also try the Hopping John entree, $8.75. Consistency is absolutely a sign of a good restaurant, and the fried chicken was just as juicy and perfectly breaded as ever. A new favorite for me is the Hopping John; after one bite I was hooked. The blend of black-eyed peas and soy bean tempeh were so ridiculously flavorful that I wish I had asked what each square of vegetarian heaven was cooked in. The tomatoes, bell peppers, and extra black-eyed peas were a great addition. Each entree also came with two sides, so I ordered my favorite cornbread with this amazing glaze that makes the bread so moist, and the okra with sherry tomatoes and bacon, which was just as tasty as ever (although I actually could have done without the bacon in it, which is an option). My mom's two sides of mac and cheese and corn succotash were actually her favorite parts of the meal, although this picky eater claimed that everything was extremely satisfying. My mom is an excellent cook, so this is quite a compliment.  Therre is a Southern Charm Kitchen menu at the restaurant weblink below.

 

SCtrio

I cannot wait to return for round two of that Hopping John, although I may still need to get my fix of Pentacostal Fried Chicken because, again, it is that good. I still have yet to try one of the cornbread waffles with chicken...I should just make a pact to eat my way through the menu. I am determined to wake up in time to enjoy a Southern Charm breakfast one Saturday or Sunday, because . . . . fried chicken AND biscuits. Need I say more?

The Pluses and Minuses of the Southern Charm Kitchen

 Southern Charm Kitchen + indicators: Friendly service, consistently tasty food, good quality, great value for large quantity of food, diverse selection with plenty of meat/vegetarian options

 Southern Charm Kitchen - indicators: Slightly out of the way location-wise, the smell and lack of AC was a bit uncomfortable

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Southern Charm Kitchen.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

SCKfishLunch

 

Lunch spot hopes to defy longevity odds

By Jon Roosenraad, GLOB Historian

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Jon Roosenraad is a University of Florida Professor Emeritus of Journalism. Dr. Jon loves sports, a good cigar, and the smart economy of a cheap, tasty lunch special.

Back in the day - as in way back when - Hawthorne Road meant four likely destinations - Hawthorne, Forest Meadows Cemetery, the Suburbia Drive In (remember where the other local drive in was?) and, perhaps the best Italian food in town and worth the drive, Manaro's Italian Restaurant.

Other than that, Hawthorne Road has never had much in the way of eating places. Oh there was an In and Out (now the Crab House), and maybe count the original Skeeters that really was on East University Avenue before the road split.

SCKsfSo what is on that road now?  It still goes to Hawthorne and the cemetery is doing fine (you know what they say about death and taxes), but until about a week ago, there was no place for a good meal. But then Southern Charm Kitchen  opened with hopes of changing that.

Make sure you know what city you are in, as there are restaurants with the same name in such places as Corpus Christi, Chicago, Thomasville (GA), Lebanon (KY), and Shelby (NC). Heck there even is one in Redmond (WA)!

Located in a new structure on the north side of the road just a few blocks from the Williston/Waldo crossroad, Southern Charm has an inviting appearance and a nice down-home feel inside. Joining me was the GLOB Master Mike and former Gainesville Sun Managing Editor, Rob Oglesby. We were warmly greeted by our server Matthew as we were the first customers there at 11:30.  Make a note of that time.

The menu reflects basic Southern/soul food dishes, which again raises the question - just what is the difference between Southern food and soul food?  I considered the Primrose Inn as a Southern and Mama Lo's as a soul food lunch stop. The Southern Charm (SC) Kitchen menu listed such classics as fried catfish, smothered pork chops, meatloaf, chicken & waffles and shrimp & grits along with BBQ fish, oxtail and BBQ goat. Prices range from $9.59 to $12.50 and come with two unremarkable side dishes.  There is a link to the SC Kitchen menu below.

SCKporkChopMike was impressed with his one-inch thick pork chop (right), and my catfish (pic at top) was nice and fresh, although buried in a little too much cornmeal batter. On the light side of lunch, Rob ordered an excellent smoked SCKsoupturkey and sweet corn chowder with a side order of sweet potato hush puppies. 

Mike and I got our food 50 minutes after we arrived -- at 12:20, but the restaurant has been open only a few days and hopefully that delay will change.

Sandwiches are served with Cajun fries and the menu includes burgers (for $10.59?), fish, chicken and an unusual combination of corned beef and pulled pork. There are several vegetarian entries also.

So the questions are: Is the food really charming and can it help revive Hawthorne Road?

The food is good, make no mistake about that, but a little overpriced and definitely not worth a 50-minute wait. As Mike said afterwards, it was basic diner food.

The location? Hawthorne Road is like 13th Street, both the Northwest and Southwest versions -- not much in the way of eating places.  So history is against the Southern Charm Kitchen having much success.

Would we go there again and is it worth the drive from other parts of Gainesville? Maybe in a couple of months after a few kinks are worked out. Gainesville may have nearly 30 Mexican and Southwest places to eat, but it is real short on Southern/soul food lunch stops. Bring back the two mentioned above!

(The Gainesville Drive In was where Sam's Club is now located on NW 13th Street.)

The Pluses and Minuses of the Southern Charm Kitchen

 Southern Charm Kitchen + indicators: Classic dishes on menu, nice variety, easy to find, good parking, friendly staff.

 Southern Charm Kitchen - indicators: Slow service, somewhat overpriced.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Southern Charm Kitchen.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Last modified onThursday, 13 July 2017 05:43

Additional Info

  • Phone Number: 352 505-5553
  • Address: 1714 SE Hawthorne Road, Gaineville, FL
  • Urban GLOB Location: Northeast
  • Latitude: 29.649872
  • Longitude: -82.302688
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1 comment

  • Abby
    Abby Tuesday, 02 October 2012 09:20 Comment Link

    On the 3rd day of business, the unsweetened ice tea was bitter, the appetizer was forgotten, the turnip greens had an indistinguishable odd taste, the cornbread (they were out of biscuits) was covered with a sugar glaze, the mashed potatoes were bland (we had ordered black eyed peas), and the chicken of the chicken dinner was 1/4 breast and a wing (ugh) fried to an unappetizing burn. Those are the negatives. The positives are that the service was friendly and the appetizer (liver and onions), once it arrived, was scrumptious. We may give it another try after they settle in.

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