Restaurant: SoulFed Café’
Address: 233 Simpson Rd. (on the corner of County Line Road), Ardmore
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Style: Take-Out / Delivery
Food: Soul Food
Atmosphere: Pick-Up Window
Service: Smiling and Friendly
Price Range: $2 - $13.50
Parking: Street Parking
Unique Feature: Call ahead and schedule a pickup time for lunch or dinner, but they’re only open Thursday, Friday & Saturday.
Many of the Main Line’s most popular eateries are along Lancaster Avenue. It’s no surprise. There’s a definite curb appeal to having a restaurant in a high-traffic area.
County Line Road in Ardmore gets its fair share of commuters, as well. But in the blink of an eye, a speeding driver can easily overlook the SoulFed Café.
Even with its five-foot-tall, red-lettered sign boasting “fish, chicken and slammin’ sides” facing the busy road, the soul food café with a southern twist is easy to overlook. But the intoxicating smells exuding through the white stucco walls of Ardmore’s American Legion outpost are not to be missed.
Though they do offer food inside the Legion to a crowd of familiar faces, week after week, the SoulFed Café is a predominately pick-up and take-out business.
I had checked out the menu ahead of time, online. The “food for your spirit and soul” is split up into appetizers, sandwiches, platters, sides, desserts, and specials.
With one phone call, my order was in and my 4 p.m. pickup was set.
When I arrived at the inconspicuous building, I made my way to the pick-up window in the rear. I rang the buzzer and a smiling face appeared at the window. Within minutes, my order was up, I was paid, and on my way.
I had decided on an order of the SoulFed wings, a fried pork chop sandwich, an order of gizzards and fries, the fried quarter leg chicken platter (which came with two sides), the macaroni and cheese and the string beans with smoked turkey, and two desserts: the 7-Up cake and the peach cobbler. Grand total: $31.
As I nibbled on a SoulFed wing, I thought of the four little chickens that had bravely sacrificed their upper extremities for this tasty snack…
Well, not really, but their sacrifice was not in vain. These wings were properly treated. Breaded, fried and lightly tossed in a fingerlickin’ good sweet and spicy sauce.
I really didn’t know what to expect with the fried pork chop sandwich, as this was the first I’d ever ordered. I opened the container to find a sizeable chop, and two pieces of white bread. It really didn’t leave too much to the imagination. It was a real do-it-yourself job.
But truth be told, it has made it onto my list of all-time favorites. The residual heat from the chop created a greenhouse effect in the foam container, softening the bread. I ripped a chunk of chop off, wrapped it in my moistened white bread and took a bite, easily shredding through the pork’s tender fibers. As it stuck to the roof of my mouth, I wondered if a vat of warm pork fat to dip my bite in would make this any more enjoyable than it already was.
With my confidence in SoulFed’s soul food skills piqued, I gave the gizzards and fries a go. I have an aunt that can crunch on cartilage ‘til the day is long. I can’t get into that. But like breaded chunks of fried jerky, these gizzards were mighty tasty. They held up to a bite, even giving a little push back, but to my delight, never an unappetizing crunch.
The fried quarter leg chicken platter was the highlight of the meal (second only to the pork chop). A creamy, bright orange, cheese-covered portion of elbow macaroni and a smoky, vinegary serving of green beans accompanied two legs and two thighs. The breading SoulFed uses has a texture like sand, sealing the chicken’s juicy flavors beneath its crispy skin.
The trio of flavors was a near perfect match. Where the macaroni and cheese may have needed a little seasoning, the fried flavor of the chicken and briny tang of the beans made for a wonderful balance.
Ending such a great meal on a high note is tough, but luckily, the homemade desserts at SoulFed were made to please. A slice of 7-Up cake—the size of a small handbag—was simultaneously moist, delicious, sweet and satisfying. A hefty serving of gelatinous peaches and crust had been scooped into a clear plastic container, with no regard for the integrity of its original shape. This stuff is dangerous and was the end to a near perfect meal.
When I finally lifted my eyes from my dessert I realized I was surrounded by what must have been a dozen crumpled napkins. I was full, satisfied and happy I slowed down long enough to give SoulFed Café a try.