White-trash chic

Behind a low-rent facade dwells a Blue Soul of great eats

When I finally arrived, we loaded our trays with marmalade-roasted chicken, root-beer ribs, and stuffed pork chops, along with mashed potatoes, slaw, and green beans. Not to mention corn bread, biscuits, and honey butter. (There is some lighter stuff on the menu, but if you've got a Southern theme going, you better expect a real noontime dinner.) A serving of pork chops meant two, each pocket of meat packed to overflow with crumbly corn bread stuffing, then smothered with tomatoes, peppers, and onions and cooked till tender. And a quarter of a chicken was glazed with tart marmalade and baked, somehow keeping the light meat moist. Nine inches of ribs were sticky with boiled-down root beer (soft drinks being a regular white-trash cooking ingredient, as anyone knows who has tasted a ham basted with Coca Cola or a Seven-Up cake), but they hadn't been cooked long enough. The meat was still tough and stringy--too much a chewing effort for porch food. The biscuits were great: short and tall, if you know what I mean. (If you don't, they were flaky, but risen high.) Peach cobbler was served in a plastic cafeteria bowl filled to the brim, with the peach slices cooked dark and bits of crispy pecan and buttery crust submerged in the syrupy juices.

We sat on the deck (in this context, I really should call it a porch), which had been built by lining up old wood doors on their sides and shoring them up with 2x4s. Right now, the Blue Soul's porch is more authentic than some can stand. I like the Southern languor of sitting outside in the shade:The hundred-degree heat melts you into a relaxing, motion-saving stillness. But for those who can't take it, or who have to wear ties to work, the Cafe offers seating inside the club, in the room with the velvet paintings.

Blue Soul Cafe, 1906 McKinney, 969-5414. Open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; breakfast buffet Thursday-Saturday, midnight-4 a.m.

Blue Soul Cafe:
Abita Root Beer Ribs $7.50
Fried Catfish Po' Boy $5.95
Pork and Apple Meat Loaf $5.50
Marmalade Chicken $6.25

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