SOUTH SHORE — The owner of Southern Kitchen is getting something right in its first week.
“In the last week I’ve run out of everything,” said owner Jessica Warfield, who started selling turkey legs, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and other soul food on Aug. 5 at 7167 S. Exchange Ave.
Southern Kitchen is offering fresh-made soul food staples in a neighborhood full of fast food.
“All you normally get is gyros and pizza puffs,” Warfield said. “Who wants to go all the way to the West Side for soul food?”
Warfield’s hunch seems to be right — Soul Kitchen is doing double the business she predicted, and chef Carvis Clausell is the reason.
“My job was to make it so when you try it, you have to try again,” Clausell said.
Clausell said much of the menu for Southern Kitchen was already set when his cousin introduced him to Warfield, but he’s brought in the spices and techniques he learned at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta.
“This is my own way, this is my own style because these are my recipes,” Clausell said.
His turkey legs come out with a golden crust of herbs and the collard greens are as tender as the smoked turkey necks they are stewed with.
He said he’s proudest of the gravy he makes from scratch every morning, but the collard greens, which have to be slowly coaxed out of their toughness, is the sign of soul food done right.
“It can taste like a shoelace or like a tough steak,” Clausell said of cooking any tough leaf like collard or mustard greens.
Clausell is in every morning at 8 a.m. working on the gravy before the restaurant opens at 10 a.m., and frying chicken through the final rush at 8 p.m.
Southern Kitchen also offers banana pudding for dessert and German chocolate, carrot and other assorted cakes from Angelica’s Bakery, 1517 E. 87th St.
So far, the neighborhood seems to prefer Southern Kitchen to the former JJ Fish and Chicken on that corner and Clausell is already thinking about how to expand the menu.