With the opening of Spring 2009 from Eatonville, and the restaurant inspired by Zora Nautton which was strategically placed to improve the rift of literature aged a decade between its writer and contemporary, Langston Hughes, who was given the response of Busboy and poet Shallal. These two Harlem Renaissance authors collaborated with comedy games, bagals, but friendships turned acid when they struggled with copyright. Because the restaurant was just across the street from each other, Shallal saw it as an opportunity to reunite the two authors!
Eatonville is named after the city of Hurston’s Florida Hometown and the post-brother war in the country, African-America, the United States, and the focal point in its most famous work, their eyes oversee God.
This ‘Better Know a District’ feature is a bit unexpected. We were in the city Saturday morning, about to head back to Clarendon when I got a sudden hankering for comfort food. I’m from Texas, and when I get a hankering like this, I want a down-home, Sunday supper, soul-nourishing type of meal. I want to be transported back to the South. This was a craving that I knew nothing in Clarendon (or anything along the orange line, for that matter) could even come close to satisfying.
After a bit of scurried research on our cell phones, we decided on a place that was only 2.2 miles away from us: Eatonville. They offered a Saturday jazz brunch and the menu looked fantastic – heavy in southern creole dishes. 5 minutes later, we were parked out front.
The Eatonville dining room is alive, featuring crystal chandeliers, bronze ceiling tiles, palm leaf fans, and a 5 piece jazz band on weekend. The polychromatic hand-painted murals adorning the walls of the dining room depict the life and words of Zora Neale Hurston, the American Folklorist who penned “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
Eatonville is named after the town where Zora was raised. Along with the dining room decor, even the table details are closely attended to. Our waters and sodas were served ice cold out of mason jars. Instead of the typical stale cloth napkin that you’d see at most other restaurants, Eatonville uses red striped kitchen rags – the kind that you’d leave at your sink to wipe up any spills. These details fit the restaurant’s concept so well.
The Eatonville menus feature an array of southern classics such as shrimp and grits, po-boys, fried green tomatoes, collared greens, mac and cheese, biscuits, and bread pudding. Had the fried green tomatoes been available on the Saturday brunch menu, we would have started with those. Nonetheless, we went straight to the main meal, and ordered the catfish and grits, mac and cheese, and biscuits all to share.
The meal was truly one of the best (if not THE best) southern style meals that either of us have had in this city (and that includes Georgia Browns). The catfish, served atop a bed of collared greens, cheesy grits, and tomato puree, tasted incredibly fresh, and had a little heat in each bite – it was just the right amount to satisfy both the spicy-food-lovers, and those who don’t like spicy foods. The grits were done the way grits should be done – they were not too bland or too overpowering in flavor, and they had just the right amount of firmness to them.
The collard greens were fresh and well seasoned. Everything on that plate was done right. The mac and cheese was the only piece of the meal that we could have gone without. Our preference for mac and cheese is usually the creamy type, and this particular mac and cheese was greasier than what we would have liked, which might be the result of the 3 cheese combination used in the recipe. The biscuits, on the other hand, were perfect. Fluffy, buttery, right out of the oven, and served with a side of butter and strawberry jam – the perfect ending to our meal.
We walked out of Eatonville discussing how soon our next visit would be. I could go there every weekend for a little southern comfort. It was that good.