Earlier this month, I went to Madea's Restaurant for lunch. Although it wasn't my intention, my curiosity urged me to stop there. Madea's is a small restaurant on the corner of Overton Crossing and Delano Ave. in Frayser (close to I-40). It's easy to overlook if you're passing by, although the restaurant's logo is hard to miss. I've driven by this place often as I took care of personal business, promising myself that I will eat there someday. Fortunately, I had the time to do it, resulting in an enlightening experience.
As I was pulling into the parking lot, I noticed the restaurant's sign on the edge of it. It's purpose is to highlight Madea's daily specials, one of which piqued my interest. The special of the day was turkey necks, something that I mistook for neck bones (fortunately, Madea corrected me). The turkey necks and everything else is served from a "heated table" (if this isn't what it's called, can someone tell me what it is) in a manner similar to the former Melanie's on Watkins St. (now named Ms. Girlee's Soul Food at its new location where Best Kept Secret was). Initially, I assumed that the turkey necks would mostly consist of cartilage with a small amount of meat. To the contrary, it was as meaty as the pork neck bones that I had at Best Kept Secret. It was sort of like eating a turkey drumstick except the meat was on vertebrae as opposed to a "stick." Speaking of that, the roasted turkey neck was very tender, which made it easy to pull apart. In nibbling on the pieces of neck bones, I wasn't sure if any part of it was a choking hazard. Luckily, I didn't encounter anything other than the large neckbone nuggets. In terms of taste, the turkey neck wasn't different from other "dark" parts of the poultry. In the end, my first turkey neck was a good experience for me.
The tasty entrée was augmented by decent side dishes. The best of them was the cornbread that came in the form of a patty. It was fluffy and very buttery, comparable to restaurants like The Little Tea Shop and Mot & Ed's. The turnip greens and macaroni & cheese were decent although not as savory as the cornbread. Personally, I didn't feel that the mac 'n cheese was as cheesy as I'm accustomed to. Despite that, it and the other sides served well with my turkey neck.
After my initial visit to Madea's, I considered wrapping up my review (as if it means anything) of the restaurant. If I did that, my my summation of it wouldn't have been great because I wasn't that impressed. Before rendering my final opinion, I wanted to try something that I was familiar with.
For the follow-up meal, I got a takeout order of baked chicken with spaghetti, cabbage and cornbread. Other than the cornbread, everything was okay in an unspectacular way. However, the quantity of the food was eye popping. For nine dollars, I got a huge (maybe over a pound) of chicken breast (with a wing) with gravy. By itself, it was more than sufficient for my appetite. Combine that with the other stuff that I had, the chicken was more than I could handle. After knocking out two-thirds of it, I used the rest of the breast in a bowl of chicken soup. Overall, I was more impressed with my second meal because I really got my money's worth.
After two visits to Madea's Restaurant, my opinion of it is lukewarm. Everything I had was good but not exceptional enough to make special trip for. While I appreciate Madea's exotic Soul dishes like turkey necks, I'll likely eat closer to home (like at Cave's Soul Food and More) if I have a hankering for something like ox tails. Although the food was decent, the service and hospitality was outstanding. During both visits, Madea and her staff welcomed me and attended to my needs. There was nothing but smiling faces from everyone that served me, something that I really appreciate. For that, I won't say that I will become a "regular" but I will make a point to visit Madea's Restaurant whenever I'm in Frayser.
Before I close, I want to express my condolences to the family of David Fields, a former bartender at Max's Sports Bar. Dave was a good man that has left the world too soon. He will be missed by family, friends and anyone else who knew him. Rest in peace, Dave.
Check out Madea's Restaurant on
Labels: Cafeterias, Commentary, Frayser, Soul Food
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