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So the holidays are officially upon us, and now that the snowpocalypse has passed we are once again free to partake of our lovely City’s fine cuisine. Late nights and later mornings set the stage perfectly for brunch, and there is none finer in town than the familial Southern cooking at the Kingfish Café. Located at 19th Ave and Mercer on the east side of Capitol Hill (just across the street from Monsoon), the Kingfish Café serves up huge portions of rich, satisfying soul food. They also make a mean Bloody Mary – spicy, with lots of black pepper to give your rosy cheeks a little extra color on a cold winter morning.
And speaking of cold, rule number one at the Kingfish Café: close the door after yourself! Chances are likely that you’ll forget, but don’t fret – one of the Coaston sisters will swoop in to rescue you (the owners, Laurie and Leslie are just about the sweetest ladies on the Hill). It’s hard not to get distracted upon entering, as you’ll be greeted by an inevitable mass of patrons waiting for a table. Like so many of our other beloved local culinary institutions, the Kingfish Café gets positively mobbed on the weekends. I know the concept of brunch is lazy by definition, but if you can get there a little earlier the difference in wait time is dramatic. There is a second dining room. It may or may not be open.
And once you finally are seated, don’t expect things to speed up any. The Kingfish Café can get pretty hectic and service can be a little slow, but you’re in no hurry. C’mon, where do you really need to be on a Saturday morning? Just enjoy the old timey jazz on the stereo and savor the delightful aromas coming from chef Kenyatta Carter’s open kitchen. Admire the huge, blown-up sepia toned photographs which line the walls – portraits from generations of the Coaston’s family (including Langston Hughes, third cousin).
Believe me, it’s so worth the wait. In a City known for its crabcakes, I am of the belief that the crabcake dewey with herbed hollandaise served at the Kingfish Café is easily the best. A superb mixture of catfish, lump crab and sweet red peppers, the cakes are fried up crispy with butter and will melt in your mouth. The poached eggs served on top with a peppery pink hollandaise sauce just add to the rich decadence of this brilliant dish. Top with green scallions and parsley, and served with a side of outstanding, fiery homefries (more peppers, onions and a hash of potatoes), you’ve got my ideal brunch.
Bring friends, because you’re going to want to try everything on the menu. From impossibly creamy, perfectly cooked grits to a fluffy biscuit the size of your head slathered with chicken gravy and sweet onions, everything is rich and warm and soulful. And spicy – the andouille sausage served in a French creole eggtorte is smoking hot, contrasting beautifully with the cool, roasted tomato coulis spread over a rumble of eggs and peppers. If you really want to get your South on, the requisite fried chicken and waffles are also available (with syrup or gravy – your choice).
The Kingfish Café is also open for lunch and dinner, but for me, brunch is where it’s at. It’s just such a wonderful, down home place to bring visitors from out of town, friends or family on a Sunday morning. Just remember to take your time, bring your patience, and close the door after yourself.