soul food done right at mitchell’s

It’s rare that I go into a place in NYC and forget where I am. Not because I’m lost but because it just doesn’t feel like NYC. New York, I love you, but I have to say finding this is refreshing. I walked into Mitchell’s after 9pm on a Thursday. We’d tried to call in an order for delivery but learned that the person who does delivery was gone for the evening. No worries. I’d go in person.

Mitchell's Soul Food - Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Mitchell’s Soul Food – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

 “What desserts do you have? Do you have banana pudding?”

 “We don’t have that today. We have peach cobbler. And we have cake.” The way she said it, I thought they only had one kind of cake. When I walked in though I found that wasn’t the case. She was using it collectively, just like how all soda in the South is “Coke”. It made me smile.

 The dining room is nothing fancy. It’s all about the food here. It was on the later side for dinner, so when I was there it was mostly filled with people also waiting on orders to go. The tables are basic – topped by simple plastic tablecloths.

 I’ve said before I’m usually underwhelmed by the fried chicken most people rave about. Buttermilk Channel? Meh. The best I’ve found thus far had been Clinton Street Baking Company. Until now, that is. The fried chicken at Mitchell’s was only lightly breaded. The flavor made it obvious to me that they aren’t using super old oil, which was great to see (and taste!). The portion size was generous yet manageable. I usually try fried chicken at any given place only one time. I have to say, I don’t know that I could try any other main dish here now that I’ve had their fried chicken. So good.

Fried Chicken, Mac 'n Cheese, & Collards - Mitchell's

Fried Chicken, Mac ‘n Cheese, & Collards – Mitchell’s

For sides, I went with the mac ‘n cheese and collard greens. The mac was creamy enough but nothing extraordinary. It proved to be a nice balance to the strong pork flavor of the collard greens – and no, that is not a negative comment in the least. Both the fried chicken and collard greens are menu items not to miss.

To finish things off, we had the peach cobbler, which was quite good, even though I found myself wanting just a bit of vanilla ice cream. That’s me just being dessert greedy. The dough portion was not as sweet as others I’ve had, but it worked well with the sweeter peach portion. If this spot were closer to me one word… danger. All this food came to about $12 each. Not bad at all. Highly recommend.

Mitchell’s Soul Food – 617A Vanderbilt Ave @ St Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – 718.789.3212
No Reservations / Cash Only

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chinatown’s shanghai cafe deluxe

(AKA the day Lara made peace with Chinese food)

In a group, I’d always been “that girl”. Nose scrunched and lips puckered. Quick to squelch Chinese food from the cuisine line-up for delivery. Good experiences had admittedly been limited to the likes of PF Chang, the admission of which I know is shameful.

Earlier this summer though, this was rectified. I’d heard several friends rave about Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown, touring it to be superior to options in Flushing. If you’re looking for a place with very courteous and attentive service, consider yourself warned. This might not be the spot for you. However if you’re looking for fabulous food, game on. Bring your friends and bring your cash, cause they don’t take cards here.

Fried Tiny Buns with Pork - Shanghai Cafe

Fried Tiny Buns with Pork - Shanghai Cafe

The outside is not pretentious, but worry not. They do not take reservations. Not to worry though – they have a nice sized dining room and can usually easily accommodate larger groups. Once you’re seated, I recommend you start off with their fried tiny buns, which we referred to as soup dumplings. These are definitely a highlight. You can choose to get them fried or steamed. I like them both, though my preference is fried. The fried ones have a slightly crispy exterior, which is a nice contrast to the soupy interior. I also found the steamed ones to be less manageable with the awkward plastic chopsticks we were using. A chopstick may have been lost during my initial attempt. The steamed ones though do have a bit more of the soup on the interior, which is why bite slowly – or else you risk a deluge of hot soup headed straight to your lap. $4.95 gets you four buns, either style. A steal for splitting.

Eggplant - Shanghai Cafe

Eggplant - Shanghai Cafe

One of the surprises was their eggplant prepared with a garlic sauce and meat. So good! It is intended to be served somewhat spicy, but we asked them to make it extra spicy – which meant it came out normal spicy. Note: if you want things spicy here, even if it’s noted with the red evil chili pepper and should be hot, you must ask them. Ask, and they’ll oblige.

Sliced Pork with String Beans & Rice - Shanghai Cafe

Sliced Pork with String Beans & Rice - Shanghai Cafe

This dish is a good solid option if you’re looking for a good meat & vegetable mix. Portion sizes in general at Shanghai Cafe are on the generous size. More than enough for two after having enjoyed those delicious soup dumplings.

Orange Chicken - Shanghai Cafe

Orange Chicken - Shanghai Cafe

I was expecting rice to be served with the orange chicken dish and I was hopeful it would be spicy. No rice and only mildly spicy. See note above. Ask. Ask away. Nice flavor though and paired well with the steamed broccoli.

On my last visit, we all tried their bubble tea. I don’t think I’ll be having more of that. We were all surprised to find them pre-packaged and it wasn’t the milky version we were expecting. Additionally, I requested a lychee one and it instead came out as a hibiscus one. As someone who prefers all things floral in vases or gardens, I was disappointed. Overall though, this is still a great spot. This past weekend, it even made the short list as a part of the food itinerary for out-of-town foodies.

Shanghai Cafe Deluxe – 100 Mott St (B/w Canal & Hester St) – 212.966.3988 or 212.966.8698
No Reservations/Cash Only