Sweet T Southern Food - Worcester, MA
I recently tried out a place off of Rte. 146 (Blackstone River Road) in Worcester, near Holy Cross. Sweet T Southern Kitchen is not a fancy place, but it does serve up some righteous, carefully prepared Southern food. The place is clean and well lit -- the food is served from a cafeteria-like set-up (by an employee - not self serve). The menu is simple - there are two to three meats offered, as well as roughly 10 side dishes. The meats are Southern Ham, Pulled Pork and Chicken Fried Chicken; the sides include the basics -- Baked Mac-N-Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Collard Greens, Black-Eyed Peas, Candied Yams, and Corn, as well as Fried Okra, Sausage Stuffing, and Green Bean Casserole. Pricing is one meat + one side ($6.75), or one meat and two sides ($8.50); additional meat is a $4.50 surcharge, while each extra side is $2.50 surcharge (a meal of just 3 sides is offered for $7.00). All meals include cornbread and gravy. The menu also shows that chili and spicy chicken gumbo are offered by the cup or bowl. Tuesday through Saturday, specials are served (such as chicken pie, smothered steak, and beef stew). Saturday is "new recipe" day, and brunch is offered on Sunday (closed Monday). Drinks offered include sweet tea (naturally), lemonade, Coca-cola products, and water ($1.50 each). The place is BYOB, if you need beer with your southern fixins.
I started off with a Sweet Tea, which passed my test - just the right amount of sweetness, without disguising the tea flavor. I ordered the Chicken Fried Chicken, with white gravy, as well as 3 sides - Black-Eyed Peas, Candied Yams, and Mac-N-Cheese. I got the sides immediately with the cornbread, and had to wait for the chicken, which is prepared fresh with each order. The Black-Eyed Peas had a nice soupy flavor, with bits of ham. The Candied Yams were perfect, and had a slight maple flavor as well -- a variation, but a good one. The Mac-N-Cheese was a little dry, and could have used some additional cheeses and bread crumbs. The cornbread was little dry as well, but thankfully not too sweet -- it was a wedge of cornbread, not a corn muffin (there is a big difference). Butter for the bread would be a nice touch, but I did not see it offered.
Then I got my chicken and gravy, and it was heaven on a plate. The chicken was a boneless breast, cooked with a nice buttermilk (?) crust, perfectly seasoned and very juicy inside. The gravy was a white gravy, with the right amount of spice, and tasted like mom made it -- if I had my druthers, I would have ordered the mashed potatoes instead of the Mac-N-Cheese, and drowned it in that gravy. It served the chicken very well.
Dessert was hard -- the day I was there, I saw sweet potato pie, buttermilk pie, and bread pudding. Despite a tasty sample of bread pudding with caramel sauce (samples are freely offered to you - even pushed), I had my heart set on sweet potato pie. My heart knows my stomach -- the pie had a nice rich flavor (different than the Candied Yams), and a decent crust. Other desserts offered (when available) are pecan pie, pineapple upside down cake, banana pudding, and red velvet cake ($2.50 for all desserts except the red velvet cake, which is $3.50).
I will be going back and ordering those mashed potatoes, as well as some fried okra and maybe the ham. It would be nice if hush puppies and some seafood were offered (cornmeal fried catfish and hush puppies would be nice changes of pace from the ubiquitous fish-n-chips in the area. Fried shrimp would also be welcome, as would shrimp and grits). Service is a little slow, and I worry that food will not turn over quickly enough (and dry out) in the steamer trays. Still and all -- this place has the right touch for the food it serves.