Bertha’s Kitchen: A Soulful Charleston Staple
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2017 is going to be a big year for the small, family-owned establishment Bertha’s Kitchen. In January, the restaurant was nominated the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics award. The America’s Classics award is given to five restaurants across the nation that exemplify quality food, local character, and lasting appeal. Bertha’s Kitchen won the award
along with four other restaurants from California, New York, Maryland, and Missouri. This year’s winners will be honored at the James Beard Awards Gala at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 1st.
Albertha Grant opened her kitchen in 1980. Today, it is run by her daughters Julia Grant, Linda Pinckney, and Sharon Coakley.
Being the foodie that I am, I felt an obligation to pay a visit to the Charleston staple. I made my way to the bright blue building with high hopes. When I entered the restaurant I was taken aback by its simplicity. A handful of tables were scattered in the main dining area, while a cafeteria-style counter was at the end of the room. Thankfully, Bertha’s Kitchen offered an “Everyday Special” of lima beans, white rice, fried chicken (1 leg, 1 thigh), and cornbread. However, the special only showcases a small amount of the soulful goodness Bertha’s Kitchen has to offer. Fried pork chops, fried whiting, okra soup, macaroni and cheese, and more are other restaurant favorites.
When I got my food, I couldn’t even wait to sit down to start eating. The chicken, practically falling off the bone, was fried to a perfect golden brown color, and paired perfectly with the savory taste of lima beans over rice. I was so overwhelmed by the best fried chicken I had ever had, that I almost forgot about the cornbread. Forgetting the cornbread would have been a grave mistake since the cornbread was almost like eating a cake. It was sweet and moist, and it was the perfect side to tie the entire meal together. I washed the whole meal down with a cold glass of sweet tea, and almost didn’t notice the extreme pain in my gut from gorging myself.
Overall, my experience at Bertha’s Kitchen was fantastic. The cozy ambiance made me feel like I was sitting down for a home cooked meal, while the food lived up to its famous reputation. I will definitely be returning to Bertha’s Kitchen, but next time with more people and a bigger appetite.