a couple's adventures in eating
Restaurant: La’Wan’s Soul Food
Location: 7520 S. Tryon St. Suite 19 Charlotte NC, 28217
WHAT SHE ATE: 3 Vegetable Plate with Green Beans, Cabbage, Collard Greens & a Roll
The Critique: If “soul food” is in the title, I’m likely going to eat it. Even if I am a bride getting married in a mere six days in front of family members who haven’t seen me in years, with a photographer who will undoubtedly catch me at an angle or four where there is bound to be irrevocable evidence of arm flab. If that’s not love for the cuisine, I don’t know what is.
A lot of people claim to know what soul food is. A lot of people think that if you fry it up real good (yeah, I said it), soak it in a bacon bath and smother it in butter, then it’s going to be delicious. Well, hold your cowtail, Paula Deen. It just isn’t always so. And if anyone knows it, it’s the La’wan brigade.
I’ve never been to this little food joint. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t come across the radar due to its BOGO coupon in the Entertainment book. So, when Mom and I walked into the sparkling fresh restaurant wrought with good smells and smiling faces, tucked unassumingly into a tiny, new strip mall, we were more than pleased.
Now, I’m not going to mince my words. Food is about culture and culture is about food so let’s just tell it like it is and not play dumb. I’m a white girl. My mom’s a white girl. And we were about the only white girls in this place. Did we feel like fish out of water? Not for one minute. Even at the two o’clock hour, the restaurant was bustling with hungry regulars and curious newbies, all anxious for good eats and all met with welcoming service.
Food time: I could have made the biggest mistake of them all by ordering nothing but greens. Aside from the outrageous havoc that such roughage can wreak upon the stomach, there is always the chance that just maybe all of these items will taste exactly the same: meaty, oily and drowning in pepper. It’s a common tale. Alternatively, they may all come to the table awaiting my bestowal of salt and pepper down upon their bland and mundane existence. Not the case, here. Each dish had a distinctly perfect flavor about it and required no seasoning on my part. Additionally, La’Wan’s gave their own spin. It wasn’t the same ole same ole greens your mama forced down your throat. There was a certain reinvention to these dishes. The collards were by far my favorite: packed to the punch with zest (you could see the red pepper flakes, but they weren’t overpowering), but still clinging to that traditional taste you always loved about collards: tangy, fresh, bitterly sweet, perfect.
I snuck a sample of my mother’s lima beans (which were utter perfection) as well as my sister’s chicken tenders. They were wrapped in a highly seasoned batter and were extremely juicy at first bite, but lacked the crisp I long for in a good chicken tender. I’ll forego it on account of the greatness of everything else.
Our server was nothing short of wonderful: always available without being too invasive and perfectly kind without being overtly sweet (aka: “I’ll be totally nice to you so I get a good tip”). After paying for our meal at the counter, I spoke with another server who explained to me that the restaurant has been around for 11 years but only in this new location for a mere TWO months. I praised her food and she sweetly responded, “Well, you come back. We’re open every day! Til 9PM… at the LEAST.”
I will come back. Oh yes. I will come back.
The Verdict: Yum. Yum. And more yum. Can’t wait to bring Short to this incredible place.
NOTE: First time reading this blog? Well, you should probably know that this entry isn’t how things always run here at The Short And Tall of Food. We, Candace & Timothy are Orlando-based food bloggers scouring Central Florida for the best eats we can find. But, right now, we’re out of town on account of (drum roll please) our wedding! So, stay tuned with us in North Carolina from Oct. 1-Oct. 12, 2012 as we say, “I Do” to not only each other, but delicious cuisine!