Monday, February 25, 2008

Starting the day with fried chicken and gospel

Last Sunday, I went with TC and fam to check out the Sunday Gospel Brunch at B. B. King. I was excited about going for two reasons: 1) the opportunity to see the Harlem Gospel Choir live, and 2) the extensive buffet menu of Southern food promised on B. B. King's website. I almost never eat Southern food, mainly because it isn't very healthy, but also because I don't have many dining companions who are interested. A gospel brunch at one of the biggest tourist venues in Times Square isn't the same as eating chicken and waffles at some joint up in the hundreds, but I'll take whatever opportunities I can get.

That day, Kosovo had just declared its independence, and my walk from the train station to the club was filled with the wild honking of Kosovars celebrating. People were grouped on the street or hanging out of their car windows, waving flags and cheering in excitement. I couldn't help but smile at their joy.

But when I arrived to B. B. Kings at 12:30 pm, the time specified on the ticket, this huge line awaited me.
I was a little dismayed, but then realized I really was in for the full New York tourist experience. It was about half an hour before they finally opened the doors and started ushering us in.
Once we entered though, things were fairly organized. A woman led the group of us to a padded circular booth along the outside walls of the room. It was crowded—more like a booth for three than for five—but we settled in well enough. Given the approximately six hundred people in the room, B. B. King had a specific method for allowing everyone access to the buffet: they had created four lines at two long, identical buffet tables that could be reached from either side, and called up sections one at a time to go fill their plates.
Here's mine, clockwise from the top: grits, a piece of fried chicken, jambalaya, collard greens, a biscuit, a piece of fried catfish, some pasta salad, and a scoop of mac 'n' cheese. None of it was anything to make a Southerner proud. But the collard greens were spicy, and the fried chicken, while soggy-crusted, was juicy and well seasoned. And later on I snagged some pieces of perfectly crisp bacon, which pretty much makes everything right with the world.
Most of the food at the Sunday Gospel Brunch was mediocre—about what you would anticipate from a giant buffet held in a nightclub. But some of it was also better than I expected. And when your meal is followed by an exuberant group of gospel singers belting out "Oh Happy Day," you just can't help but agree.


  1. i suddenly need to eat stewed oxtail and collared greens.

    but where???

  2. Seriously, we should be friends. Your friends don't like Southern Food? Serious? What's wrong with them?! Haha just teasing.
    I'm surprised at the line but I guess they're really famous. I went twice for the Sunday brunch with Strawberry Fields (I LOVE the Beatles!) and it was really good- the same food- but not quite as packed either time, despite one of those times being right around Christmas. I mean, like you said, the food is nothing to write home about, but it's decent and I like that you can keep stuffing your face, though once the show starts, I was busy singing along with the Beatles :)

  3. Sounds like fun!
    ...and I totally would have gone to eat Southern food!

  4. no friends interested in southern food?? i'm offended! whatchu know 'bout southern food