Food

Gwen Fowler

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

A visit to Martha Lou's Kitchen is a delicious trip indeed

Posted 12/14/2011 11:58:00 AM

Every time I’ve read about Martha Lou’s Kitchen, the writer raved about the fried chicken and the lima beans.

So when I finally visited recently, I made sure to order those two things. Excellent move on my part, because they were delicious.

Martha Lou Gadsden, at age 81, is still cooking up a storm in the small, pink building on Morrison Drive in Charleston that she opened 28 years ago. She and her daughter, Debra Worthy, keep the chicken, fish and pork chops fried up just right six days a week.

When you pull up in front of the restaurant, you notice things look a little ramshackle. But if you let that discourage you from stopping, you will miss out on a treat.

Inside the tiny restaurant, the five small tables and two booths are topped with white tablecloths. As soon as we’re seated, the very friendly Worthy comes over to see what we’d like to drink. Sweet tea, of course, and the sweet tea at Martha Lou’s Kitchen is very sweet.

Next Worthy asks what type of meat we want for lunch so she can start it cooking. The fried chicken isn’t cooked until it’s ordered. That means the fried chicken is served piping hot, which is sort of torture because it looks and smells so delicious you want to take a big bite, but you’d burn your mouth if you did. You’re forced to take it slow.

The lima beans were so tasty they could be a lunch all by themselves. With it, I had okra soup, a thick tomato-based soup. My husband had the macaroni and cheese. At $9 each, these yummy lunches were quite a deal.

While you’re waiting for and eating your lunch, you’ve got lots to look at. There are framed copies of magazine and newspaper article featuring Gadsden’s restaurant. One of them is Saveur magazine, which featured an article by the Road Food team of Jane and Michael Stern about Charleston’s soul food cafes in May.

A New York Times article last year about Chef Sean Brock’s much-lauded Husk and McCrady’s restaurants said the cooking at Martha Lou’s Kitchen “establishes a baseline of excellence that would be difficult for any cook to top, even Mr. Brock.”