Honey’s is a fairly new down home cooking spot on Pulaski (just west of the Home Depot on North Parkway). I met Lady A there for lunch one Thursday, eager for both a drive in the sunny spring time weather and some soul food. The signage is plainly visible traveling south, but traveling north I missed it and had to turn around. The restaurant itself is small and unassuming, a single sign on the roof and, inside, a sprinkling of paintings on the walls. On our visit, music from the 70s floated lightly in the background.
The restaurant was cool and as I waited for Lady A to grab a sweater from her car, I studied the chalkboard list of specials. My eyes lit up at the word “meatloaf” and I was ready to order before we were even seated. However, as our server seated us and handed us menus, I noticed that meatloaf was not the special of day. Unsure, I asked our server who confirmed that there was no meatloaf.
Undeterred, I examined the menu and finally settled on chicken and dressing with mac and cheese. In a case of remarkably unplanned choreography, that was also Lady A’s selection, with one modification. In addition to the side we selected, the chicken and dressing came with boiled cabbage and she requested greens instead. This confused our server to no end. Did the chicken and dressing come with cabbage? We showed her the menu, it did. Could she sub? She would have to ask the kitchen. Finally, it was verified that greens could indeed be substituted for the cabbage.
Orders thus placed, we settled into chat and sip our drinks. My unsweet tea was bitter, as though it had been steeped too long. Our food came out in short order and I was a little startled by my plate. Most down home cooking places portion food like you’re about to go on an Arctic expedition and need as many calories as you can possible pack in. It’s not unusual for me to make 2 or 3 meals out of a single lunch time serving. Instead I found myself face to face with…considerably less food. Now, to be fair, it was a large plate and the cabbage was in it’s own bowl, neither of which are going to add to the visual presence of the food. But objectively, my “chicken” serving was two drumsticks. And I finished everything except for the cabbage in a single sitting. Without feeling full to bursting afterwards.
The chicken itself was nicely done, the dark meat moist and not overly greasy, flavorful without seasonings. Those who aren’t fans of dark meat or who have large appetites would likely find this unsatisfactory in the extreme. The dressing featured small crumbs bound tightly together. Chicken stock gave it a robust flavor, but the still firm crumbs gave the dish an oddly grainy texture. The macaroni and cheese was clearly made on site with real cheese, small globules of cheese floated on noodles coated with a well oiled sheen. It was tasty enough but more “cheese on noodles” than “cheese sauce over noodles”. The cranberry sauce had the consistency of canned sauce, and the flavor followed suit, tangy but not remarkable. The small yeast roll was brushed with oil and had a pleasingly dense but yielding texture.
The boiled cabbage was surprisingly seasoned. I expect my cabbage to be rather bland, and boiled cabbage rather exceptionally so. This cabbage was so peppery as to be off putting.
Lady A’s lack of comments was enough to tell me that she was equally unimpressed with the offerings.
Attempting to pay led to another bout of confusion with our server. We could pay at the table. Oh we were paying separately? That was okay, she could take take it to the register and have them split it. Oh. With credit? We would need to go to the counter. She was totally on the ball with getting us to-go boxes though. Gathering up our things, we made our way to the opposite side of the restaurant where there was a short lunch counter with the register. Just beyond the register we could see multiple domed cake platters holding a variety of enticing homemade cakes. We managed to resist and instead paid the owner who was warm and friendly.
Honeys is striving to be the kind of down home lunch spot that is a neighborhood hangout–you can imagine diners having casual conversations at the lunch counter and patrons awaiting a table lounging in the small couch and stuffed chair tucked into a corner by the door. Unfortunately, the food does not support that kind of bustle. The chicken was delicious but two drumsticks is a scanty portion for a meal, especially at the prices being charged. The sides were uneven, ranging from quite good (the roll) to quite odd (the cabbage). Our server seemed new and was having difficulty with the menu and the tasks (despite being some of the only patrons in there, I had to request a drink refill). The owner was wonderful, and I suspect the services issues will iron out with time but I won’t be back to find out.
Total for the meal: $11.50 (One lunch special and an unsweet tea)
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