As Trace Adkins sang in his oh-so-eloquent ode to curvy girls, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”:
“Got it goin’ on like ‘Donkey Kong’/And ooo wee shut my mouth, slap your grandma/There ought to be a law, get the sheriff on the phone/Lord have mercy how’d she even get them britches on/With that honky tonk badonkadonk”
Call your Granny and let her know you owe her a backhand across the mouth because Larkin’s, “A Contemporary Soul Food Joint,” is about to serve you the best meal you’ll have this side of the Mason-Dixon.
Stepping onto the dark wood wrap-around porch, you feel like you’ve arrived home. Not your home. Rather, the home to some mythic Grandma you always wished you had. The big, doughy one who’d stuff you full of sweet potato pie and fried chicken, kiss your boo boo and promise you everything would be okay. Let me tell you, Larkin Mackey (owner, proprietor and chef extraordinaire) can kiss my boo boo anytime.
Got it goin’ on like “Donkey Kong”…
The house is small and cozy with amazing art and retro finds covering the walls. Every inch feels personal and cared for. You will too. As you sit at one of the dozen tables (which were handmade from old doors by the owners and are very cool), you get a little present delivered.
It’s Black Eyed Pea Caviar with Pita Chips, the kind of appetizer that makes you weep the next time all you get is a bread basket, and water in mason jars. I don’t know why but, somehow, a mason jar makes everything a little more refreshing.
But not nearly as refreshing as eating okra that doesn’t have the texture of … well, something that isn’t dinner conversation. The Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fried Okra is one of the kindest things you can do for your mouth. Each bite offers tomato, tasting of pure summer, okra; salty, crisp, almost meaty, a reinvention of the food that has wreaked havoc on so many children’s palates and mixed baby greens tossed in the lightest and most delicious vinaigrette.
Salmon Cakes are another taste of perfection, light and spicy, crispy and moist. There is no question, Larkin knows how to fry. If there is a Colonel, Larkin is the General! And when the General serves you fried chicken …
And ooo wee! Shut my mouth, slap your grandma …
Marinated overnight in buttermilk and spices, served with smashed potatoes and vegetarian white gravy, fried to the kind of golden deliciousness that forces you to imitate the diner scene in When Harry Met Sally, you can’t help it. It’s just THAT good! And just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any better, your barbecue shrimp arrive.
There outta be a law. Get the sheriff on the phone …
Shrimp the size of a child’s fist rest on your plate covered in the thickest, richest and most delicious barbecue sauce you’ve ever laid tongue on. With each bite you ask yourself, “Would it be wrong of me to lift this plate to my mouth and lick it clean? I probably won’t ever see these people again.”
And if you (wisely) choose to lick ever glistening morsel of sauce from the plate once you’ve finished the tender, succulent, perfectly prepared shrimp, know that you’re in good company and made the right decision. Sauce of that caliber should NEVER be wasted.
Lord have mercy …
And just when you think Larkin could never outshine those shrimp, he whispers four sweet words from the menu: Red Velvet Strawberry Shortcake.
How’d she even get them britches on? With that honky tonk badonkadonk … Suddenly, there are Red Velvet Cakes and Sweet Potato Pies and Homemade Banana Pudding and Mixed Berry Cobblers. And every single one (I know because I tried them all with great zeal.) is sheer genius. Just like every other bite you’ve taken.
The only true disappointment is realizing, with dessert comes the end of the meal and knowing you have to leave and go back to your own home. Luckily, you can visit Larkin anytime you want and, just like Grandma, they’ll be waiting to greet you with open arms.
Larkin’s just introduced their All-You-Can Eat $12 Sunday Blow-Out Buffet. It kicks off at 5 p.m. and goes until the food is gone (which is usually quickly). So throw on your stretchy pants and get ’er done.
For more information, call (323) 254-0934 or visit larkinsjoint.com.