Mama's Got Soul
Listen up all you slackers out there! Sunday is Mother’s Day. That’s right, this Sunday; and it’s way too late to score a reso at Balthazaar…or even at Jane for that matter. Kiss brunch at the Four Seasons or Union Square Cafe bu-bye, for those are taken by Gotham’s Type-A planners. If you plan to eat during the day on Sunday and aren’t skilled enough to cook, you’ll have to take a more colorful, soulful approach. These suggestions may require a trip out of your hood, but don’t cringe grasshopper, you’ll score an A for creativity, effort and research. You can thank me later.
For soul food, you gotta take your mama or wifey to Harlem. Duh. She may use three days worth of weight watcher’s points, but she’ll be so full of southern lovin’, she won’t even care. I have two very comparable recommendations both of which cook traditional, southern soul food and are located in Harlem. Amy Ruth’s, on West 116th Street is delicious. Named after the former owner, Carl Redding’s grandmother, Alabama native Amy Ruth Moore Bass, Amy Ruth’s cooks up some seriously scrumptious family recipes. From chicken and waffles, called the Rev. Al Sharpton, to the smothered pork chops, Amy Ruth’s will have your arteries working overtime and your heart singing Alleluia. The cornbread could use another stick of butter…not! and the Virginia glazed ham sweetly melts in your mouth.
Redding sold Amy Ruth’s to Morning Star Restaurant Group investor, Lawrence Jordan several years back, and although the food remains unchanged, Amy Ruth’s filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Bottom line, if you aim to feed mama Alabama dishes that may be headed for heaven, patron Amy Ruth’s.
And then there’s Sylvia’s. Sylvia’s food is very similar to Amy Ruth’s, but Sylvia’s southern soul hails from South Carolina. Their fare provides a few additional options like a fish of the day and the must-order fried catfish. My dad makes the world’s best fried catfish, so I’m not going to even pretend Sylvia’s compares, but if there were a close second, she’d take the cake…er, um, fish. The lively atmosphere and unlimited cornbread are a major plus. The 80’s decor and celebrity pictures are a little bit of minus, although some claim it adds to the charm.
Either pick is better than taking your mom to wait at Freeman’s or Clinton Street Baking Co. amongst heaps of hungover hipsters. I mean, it’s Mother’s Day. Feed her soul!
Amy Ruth’s 113 West 116th between Lenox Ave. 7 Adam C. Powell Blvd. Open Sundays 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Phone: 212-280-8779
Sylvia’s Restaurant 328 Lenox between 126th and 127th Streets. Open Sundays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Phone: 212-996-2669
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