Collard greens, black-eyed peas and fried green tomatoes reach deep into the soul of Southern cooking. Put them alongside fried chicken or battered catfish, and the meal is complete.

G’s Country Kitchen brings Deep South dining to high-tech Huntsville five days a week. Don’t tell the Yankees about it, though, or it might be overrun.

Truth is, G’s Country Kitchen is a gem of a restaurant. It’s almost hidden below Oakwood Avenue near the intersection of Pulaski Pike in a strip of businesses once anchored by Big Ed’s Pizzeria. You’ll have to search to find it. The menu promises "specializing in good home cooking," and G’s lives up to its vow. Everything is richly seasoned and well cooked.

Plate lunches are the main attraction. A meat and two vegetables costs $5.95, and additional side orders are $1.40.

The daily special is good for a quick lunch, but a sign over the kitchen points out that this is not a fast-food restaurant. So, be patient if you order fried chicken or some other delicacy cooked to order. The food is worth the wait.

Tomatoes are cornmeal-battered and fried crisp but not greasy. Macaroni and cheese is thick and cheesy. Black-eyed peas are tasty and served in a separate bowl. Slices of tomato and onion accompany the greens.

Serving plates are the type you find in school lunchrooms, sectioned so the greens don’t mix with the beans.

Catfish fillets and chicken strips have a seasoned breading fried perfectly crisp. Meatloaf – the Thursday special – is moist and smothered with ketchup. Other meats include pork chop and hamburger patty with grilled onions.

These are all heavy meals, especially with the generous servings, but dessert is a must. Choices are pound cake, sweet potato pie and banana pudding for $1.50 and red velvet cake for $2.

The banana pudding is freshly made and delicious. Cakes are rich and moist, and the sweet-potato pie is much like a pumpkin pie – cinnamon spicy – with homemade crust.

Blue-collar workers mix with businessmen and professionals during the lunch hour at G’s. Retired couples and families drift in and out of the restaurant throughout the day.

Owners are Maurice and Greta Russell. He works for the City of Huntsville, while she runs the kitchen on a daily basis. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Today’s hectic lifestyle often leaves little time for true home cooking. G’s Country Kitchen keeps that tradition alive.

Dinner Talk

What would you order if you came back again?

Jeff Komara (from the Go Team) – "Probably a three- or four-vegetable plate. The variety of vegetables is vast and the servings are plentiful. I love this place. If you get Maurice to wait on you, you will be blessed, and what a great cook Greta is!"

Hunter Jones (from the Go Team) – "All of the vegetables were excellent, fresh and ripe. I loved the cornbread and fresh tomatoes. The banana pudding is a piece of heaven. If you sat the pudding on the top of your head, your tongue would slap your brains out trying to get to it. A great experience; I am heading to the gym!"

Matt Price (from the Go Team) – "I think I’d go with the catfish platter with slaw, fries and hush puppies. Small diners make the best catfish. Don’t judge a book by its cover. You might look past this place because of the exterior, but you’d be missing a great, inexpensive meal on the interior."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Times Nightlife Columnist

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