We fired up Gus, our Chevy by the levy, and headed off to Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food Restaurant on 22nd in the revived Manhattan Casino building near downtown St. Pete. From 22nd this is a rather nondescript building. We drove around back to a large parking area and walked up to Sylvia's. There are two entrances. One is for takeout and the other for sit down dining.
The Belle of the Boulevard and I wandered in through the "sit down" doors and just past a full bar where we were greeted by the charming and affable, Elroy. We were guided to a window table in a large, but mostly deserted dining room around 3:30 or so.
I can see Sylvia's coming alive later in the evening or on Saturday at the jazz brunch, or Sunday for the gospel music brunch. On this weekday afternoon, we had the place, and the service of Elroy, pretty much to ourselves.
To accompany her entree, my bride chose a glass of sweet Southern, never empty ice tea. I requested a not-too-bad bottle of a Belgian-Brazilian beer. Budweiser be its name.
The Belle surprised me by ordering the Carolina Style Fried Catfish since she isn't much of a fish eating person. Over the years, she acquired a tolerance for catfish once I explained to her that catfish isn't really fish, it's exactly the same as white meat chicken, only different. She still poofs and rolls her eyes at that one.
It was a foregone conclusion that I was having Sylvia's Down Home Fried Chicken, all dark meat if you please.
That leg and thigh was cooked to perfection: crispy crunchy breading, seasoned just right, and not even a hint of grease. The meat was tender and juicy with little driblets of chicken fat coating my face and fingers as I ripped into those two morsels with gusto. My two sides were from the south side of gastronomic heaven: traditional collard greens with hints of smoky, meaty flavor, and creamy lima beans.
Whether you dine at Sylvia's for the fantastic fried chicken or some of their daily specials like oxtails or chitterlings or chicken and dumplings, I think your taste buds and tummy will be thanking you for treating them so well. You wallet will be having spasms of joy when you get the check. For all of that tasty food and a couple of Buds, our bill came to just $33.18. We have paid a lot more for a lot less.
We tacked on a $10 gratuity because a 20% tip seemed chintzy for the professional and attentive service we received.