Soul Food War?

Thanks go to DCist "staff emeritus" Kanishka for bringing up the delightful possibility of a soul food showdown in the U Street corridor. It appears that the reigning champ of all foods soulful, Oohhs and Aahhs, is getting some competition in the neighborhood.

The opening of Brown Sugar (pictured above) at 928 U St. NW. slipped past me, I'm not even sure how long ago. The take-out joint has a small dine-in area and trumpets its "old school" jumbo fish sandwiches with a prominent neon sign in the front window. It appeared to be doing a brisk breakfast business last time I passed by.

And next weekend, A Taste of Carolina will open its doors at 1930 Ninth St. NW in the space once occupied by Sodere. The restaurant is planning a two-day open house of sorts, offering samples of food, drink specials and giveaways on Friday and Saturday. But unlike the soul food competition a few blocks north, the 70-seat restaurant is expected to be more upscale. "This is soul food in a fine dining environment," owner Walter Bowman, a South Carolina native, said in a release.

On April 7 from noon to 2 p.m., Taste of Carolina will be offering food samples, tours of the restaurant, giveaways and South Carolina trivia games. Drink specials and dessert sampling starts at 6 p.m. On Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. will be more of the same. On the menu: Spartanburg barbecue bibs, Myrtle Beach whiting, Orangeburg fried chicken and Savannah river trout.

Whether this all amounts to a true soul food showdown or, more benignly, just good news for fans of Southern cooking remains to be seen, but let the collard slinging begin!


Chilefire said...

Excellent News! I will have to mae a foray out to U st. This weekend for a taste test, and a wandering about. These DC soul food shops are a welcome addition to suprisingly diverse restaraunt scene in DC

Anonymous said...

I've been to Brown Sugar- a few months ago. I was not impressed. The mac and cheese was too sweet and not cheesy. The fried chicken had a weird aftertaste. My friend had the fried fish and it was undercooked. Plus, we had to wait for eons to get our food. Try Horace and Dickie's on 12th Street, off of H, Northeast.

Anonymous said...

I agree... the mac and cheese at brown sugar was awful... I think the flavor was evaporated milk.. whatever it was it wasn't cheese. On the other hand, the mac and cheese at taste of carolina was fablous cheesey and delicious. The yams were good, but the greens were better. My only complaint is that the chicken was served as quarters. I would have preferred my quarter to have been split into two pieces. The cornbread left something to be desired, far too sweet and light and cake-like. However, someone else described the hushpuppies as best ever, I'll try them next time around.

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culocho said...

Brown Sugar has some of the better coconut cake I've ever had. But the rest is "eh".

I went to Taste of Carolina (postings soon) and found THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER!

Anonymous said...

We went tonight - Saturday June 3rd - based on a review at www.dcist.com.

In short we are one and done!

After going and re-reading the origional review I was once again reminded that for some reason we in DC love to love mediocre restaurants and put them on some undeserving pedestal.

Chicken was VERY dry -- green beans were from a can (sorry but my momma made them fresh and any respectable restaurant should do the same) - the rice was bland and almost minute-rice consistency (was it minute rice?). The house salad is at best on par with a salad you would get from a fast food restaurant (oh yeah -- but this place charges over seven bucks for this while Mickey D's has it on the dollar menu).

We agreed that it may have been an off night -- and even talked about heading back in a month to get the real experience as we were sure any opening week's kinks would be worked out by then.

However -- that thinking was tossed away when we noticed that on the bill the waitress had mixed up our side salad (2.99) as a full house salad (7.99). We pointed it out to her -- the owner came over and said that we had indeed been served the full house salad (even though that isn't what we ordered). It may be my midwestern common sense kicking in but I find it hard to make the customer pay for the waitress' mistake. But the owner did not seem to feel this way so we paid up knowing that this would be our first and last visit.

I sooo wanted to love this place -- even just like it -- or even just have it as a standard slop house that gets by on a night where I don't want to cook. Unfortunately this place falls short on every measure.

I have never had a DCist review steer me wrong before -- but this time they were way wrong -- don't waste your dollar on this one.

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