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Good Grub at Powell's Place

Forget about your micro-greens and ahi tuna at this no-frills, down-home diner. Powell's Place is all about serious soul food. And it's not for the faint of heart either, literally. It's fried. And it's good.

This 17-year old establishment is owned by Emmit Powell, of the group Emmit Powell & The Gospel Elites. His talents are manifest everywhere in this joint, from the award-winning fried chicken to the gospel album covers decorating the dining rooms. The space simply feels like a well-worn dining room in someone's home, except maybe for the added entertainment of a jukebox blaring tunes from Motown to 90's soul. The diners, mostly regulars, visiting friends of Emmit's, and Hayes hoodsters, fill the place up quickly, and take it all in stride.

We've barely sat down when our cheery waitress brings over warm, cakey corn muffins. She is helpful and calls us "honey" and "sugar" like she's known us for years. We like her immediately. We savor the delicious muffins while poring over the menu, a nostalgic list of dishes mom could have made -- meatloaf, liver and onions, roast beef, and of course, the almighty fried chicken. On any night of the week, there are additions or substitutions. For example, chitterlings might replace the barbecued beef ribs on a Sunday night. There's also a choice of two side dishes from a list including black-eyed peas, braising greens, and mashed potatoes. There are lots of choices here.

So when we finally make a decision, the food arrives within minutes of our ordering. The fried chicken is Emmit's pride and joy, with good reason. It is fried to a deep golden color, with the meat inside moist and tender. The accompanying sweet corn and creamy mashed potatoes with a healthy dose of gravy are a perfect match. We also sampled the smothered pork chops with more spuds and string beans, which are a tad soggy. The chops are swimming in the dark, rich gravy, but they are the better for it, since the chops are a bit dry.

We start slowing down on our fried feast about halfway through. Sharing is a good idea here, since portions are fit for a giant. As for price, this meal is a steal, with dishes ranging between $9.25 and $12.50, and that includes the sides and tasty corn muffins. The beverage list is small, but with this menu, a beer seems most fitting.

Though we barely have room for dessert, we try a banana cream pie ($3.00). They are individually sized, but like everything else, oversized. A fluffy meringue tops the cream and sweet bananas. The black caramelized crust is quite hard though, giving us the excuse to stop nibbling.

If there's one thing you come to have at Powell's Place, it's the fried chicken. But it's good to have options. Powell's Place even serves a separate breakfast menu starting at 9am. You can be sure that we'll be coming back soon for the eggs, grits and biscuits.