Half a loaf of meat-fu at the Soul Spot.

The Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens area (I refuse to utter that silly, TriBeCa-inspired concatenation) is not exactly a cheap eaters’ paradise.  Beyond Bedouin Tent, several Dominican cafes, Schnack, and the hopefully-soon-to-open Hanco, there aren’t a huge number of options.  It’s no surprise, then, that the Soul Spot (Atlantic Av. just east of Smith St.) is one of my most frequently visited cheap eats in the nabe.  Occupying half of the ground floor of a brownstone, just across the Avenue from a hole in the ground that promises condos, while sharing a block with bail bond purveyors, the Soul Spot is at the junction of the smuttiness of Downtown Brooklyn and the ascendant South Brooklyn area.

The restaurant’s interior and menu reflects this juxtaposition.  The walls are exposed brick on one side and half tile-half wallpaper on another, and the tables are jammed together in an arrangement that could be called semi-communal, though I’ve never personally seen more than one or two people dining.  The food itself is parceled out from a steam table, so freshness can be variable.  For last night’s meatloaf ($9.50), fortunately, this was not an issue.  Moist but still chewy and a bit on the dense side (perhaps frozen), the loaf was served in a couple of thick chunks with a sweet red sauce that would make my grandmother happy (no brown sauce for this family!).  I’ve also had the meatloaf, in a less fresher iteration, be a little more dry, but it’s still a hunk of protein I’d be proud to make a sandwich of.

The side dishes (two are included with each dinner platter) are a mixed bag.  The collard greens are generally pretty bland – last night they left me reaching for a packet of hot sauce, which spiced things up a bit.  Finding them either out of grits or no longer offering them, I also opted for my usual favorite starch: noodles!  The mac and cheese differs from the usual cheese-and-noodle square – the menu claims it to be baked, and while there were no telltale crunchies from the top of the pan, the noodles were scooped on to the plate rather than cut like a brownie.  Yummy, but somewhat hard to eat with the plastic forks that the restaurant uses.

The restaurant advertises that their pastries are made on-site, and judging by the charmingly amateurish assembly of the coconut-frosted lemon cake, this is probably true.  Unfortunately, the cake itself was indistinguishable from Duncan-Hines – at $2.50 a slice, I expect more than a reminder of childhood birthdays past.  Skip it (and the lemonade, $1.50, which was probably made from powder) and go investigate the bizarreness of the new “one girl cookies” bakery-temple on Dean St. just west of Smith.

I know, I know.  A review of a soul food restaurant, and I haven’t tried the chicken?  My bust – maybe next time.  Again, given the paucity of Boerum Hill cheap options, I’ll probably be back to the Soul Spot soon, and I’ll try not to be distracted by the lovely meatloaf this time.


Filed under NYC

4 responses to “Half a loaf of meat-fu at the Soul Spot.

  1. TJ Jackson

    Just for the benefit of someone who has neve been to new York, what exactly is the “TriBeCa-inspired concatenation”?

  2. enjil

    *whispers* BoCoCa.

  3. What enjil said. A pox on whomever invented that term. I’m trying to start a movement to just call it “South Brooklyn,” but that term historically also included Park Slope, apparently.

  4. Anonymous

    Love the food! One of my favorite spots for well-priced and well-prepared comfort foods since they first opened. The owner is a hard-working West-African guy who got his start at another soul food restaurant and was mentored by the chef to master the Southern American classics. And trust me, he has. He is also one of the most humble, genuinely nice shop owners in the neighborhood, and remembers most of his customers by name. I accidently gave it 2 stars, but it deserves at least 4.5…

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