Next muhfucka who asks me if I decided to open my own soul food restaurant is gonna get to know my dull blade called Sammy Three Cuts.
For serious, go ahead and do a Google search for Dee’s Place. Experiencing internet browsing malaise? Let me get that for you. Other than the industry stalwarts, Metromix, Centerstage, and Time Out Chicago, you aint gonna find shit about this new soul food, live blues/jazz spot. One can tell that a restaurant is in it’s infancy when Yelp only has 5 reviews posted up. On top of all that, Dee’s Place doesn’t have a website. And that’s because they just don’t give a fuck. 10 years in the making, Dee’s plan is to let mouths spread the good word.
Wicker Park natives deserved a soul food joint such as this. The reality is that although soul food dishes are relatively familiar kitchen fare for most, a majority still fail miserably when attempting to replicate these items at home. Think about it. When was the last time you successfully cooked collard greens & ham hock, stewed black eyed peas & country ham, candied yams, deep fried catfish, slow cooked pork ribs, baked decent cornbread or fried hush puppies? The answer is very likely never. I am excluding those who’ve hijacked grandma’s tub of lard that was stored under the kitchen sink.
What is it about soul food that makes it so gotdamn good and why are the recipes so coveted?
Well, during the antebellum period, it was illegal in many states for African slaves to read or write, so food recipes were passed on orally. On top of that, many recipes were prepared with spontaneity; the use of a measuring cup was considered a cardinal sin. Finally, the ingredients for soul food feature discarded selections of meat that were kicked down by the slave master: pigs feet, chitterlings, and ham hock are alien items to most, but the flavors that are created by these exotic cuts are at the essence of what we call the deliciousness.
At Dee’s Place there is no exception to this rule. I might as well been Mike Tyson asking to eat Dee’s infant child when I made the mistake of requesting clarification from Rayland on the type of BBQ sauce used on the rib plate. In this business, recipes are more important than the cook preparing them. And that’s real talk, people.
I’m not even going to make an attempt at explaining the menu. Remembering what apps, meat, and sides are available and then choosing the combination that will get you the most mileage was more intricate than Asian nail art. Since you cant find the menu anywhere online, Chicago Gluttons got you sussed:
We started with Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and the catfish nuggets appetizer. The seasoned breading surrounding the white fish (which I have to assume is perch, because they wouldn’t say nathen) is the kinda shit that will bring Kaczynski back. Add a bit a Trappy’s hot sauce and let the goodness ride out, homie.With plate one, Dee reminded us of the plantation life, featuring fatty pork ribs, fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, collard greens and cornbread. My slave brethren would have been honored by my attempt at eating like a field negro from the 1700’s. I multitasked this shit…seizing ribs in one hand and chicken in the other; working flesh down to the bone. Best believe the chicken was perfectly fried and oozed juices like an abscess. Tender ribs were seared and smothered in a sweet sauce that had my lower lip sloppy.
Fuck the wet-naps. I used a hunk of cornbread to wipe up.
The collards were slow cooked to alleviate bitterness and kept the greens firm. Noodles in the mac-and-cheese congealed with the cheddar and jack cheeses like Cagney & Lacey.And with plate two, Dee took us back to the West Indies with heat and sweet, offering up jerk chicken, candied yams, jambalaya rice, and cornbread. No bumbaclot/rasclot/gutclot present. Ras Marley was talking about Chicago Gluttons krew when he came up with the lyrics, “them belly full, but we hungry.” Bob know we be killing plates, son. “A pot to cook, but the food not ‘nough.” I KNOW, BOB; we ate all that shit while you was rolling up that spliff.
And then there was the bread pudding. Instantly sprung. I don’t recall being this aroused since I saw the Halley Berry sex scene in Monsters Ball. “Bread Pudding…YOU MAKE ME FEEL GOOD!” Tech geeks, get the fuck out of the iPad line and spend your money on something that actually makes sense.