“Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!”
March 13 was the day that Rhode Island Row welcomed it’s newest business, The Carolina Kitchen, to the neighborhood. If you’re craving a little bit of southern comfort (no, not the liquor), then we think this place may just hit the spot. Chef and Owner, Lance London Combines unique blends of Cajun and Creole spices with traditional and savory home-style cooking. It’s got a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of warmth and hospitality. (What else would you expect from a southern-themed restaurant?)
Stepping through the doors one will find themselves transported into a warm, albeit very golden lit, restaurant. The walls are cluttered with everything from musical instruments, to unique clocks, a couple of TV’s, and old time-y pictures. While the decor reminded us of some of the more well known chain restaurants we typically avoid, we couldn’t help but use the decorations as points of conversation when we had exhausted how our day had gone. The restaurant, extremely family friendly with a large children’s menu, hosts a dining room and take out line with the bar to the opposite end of the building. Visit on your birthday and you can expect a loud upbeat Happy Birthday song from the staff.
Taking things to the next level of southern comfort cooking, one will even find chitterlings (chitlins) on the menu. Let’s just say, unless you grew up on them, you may want to skip that menu item, or perhaps pretend you’re as brave as Andrew Zimmern and give it a go. But, don’t blame us. We did however take it as a sign we shouldn’t be moving any further below the Mason-Dixon Line. Obviously one should expect a majority of foods on the menu to be served fried including your staple fried chicken, fried shrimp, fried crab cakes, fried calamari, fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, and even fried lobster tail. Thankfully for those of us who are working on getting bikini-ready (which we are apparently not because we LOVED the fried calimari), the Kitchen offers several grilled dishes; from ribs to salmon, chicken and shrimp. We can see where London’s grandmother’s recipes inspired the menu.
If one expects to eat for cheap, then you’ll be a little saddened once you see the bill. However the large portions and feeling like your mother made the meal especially for you make up for the price tag on some of the dishes, leaving enough to share with everyone at the table, or bring home in a doggy bag for the next day’s lunch. Or midnight fourth meal. Whichever you prefer. The service is exceptionally friendly with everyone smiling and checking in on your table when they should be. Water and coke glasses were never left empty, we never felt nagged or pressured, and when leaving we felt we probably should have hugged everyone goodbye.
We enjoyed the fun atmosphere and the southern hospitality. Next time we go back it’ll need to be with larger appetites. We have our eyes on the Creole Grilled Salmon (New Orleans-style cream sauce with lump crab meat and shrimp served with garlic mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese and collard greens) and the Grilled Baby Back Pork Ribs (basted with Carolina Kitchen’s award-winning BBQ sauce and served with baked beans, coleslaw and Cajun fries). There’s one thing for sure, you’ll never leave hungry.
The Carolina Kitchen
Rhode Island Row
2350 Washington Pl #104N NE
Washington, DC 20018