Gravy is Gravy, Greens are Greens at Cade's Cafe

by Cathy Adams

     Cade's Cafe on Liberty Street specializes in authentic Southern cooking; gravy is gravy, and greens are greens, with pork of course. Being partners in a restaurant is almost like being married, it requires negotiations, compromises and agreements about subjects held most dearly, especially food. Even the name can be the subject of much debate. The four initial partners of Cade's Cafe, when faced with a definite deadline finally came up with idea of taking the initial of their first names (Christopher Brooks, Alonzo Chester, Derrick Greene and Edward Hill) and Cade's it became.

     Side dishes are an important part of the Southern table and Cade's does justice to everyone's favorite: candied yams, macaroni and cheese, string beans, mashed potatoes, potato salad and collard greens. Greens provoke the most passionate debate, with Derrick lobbying for greens made without pork or maybe with smoked turkey as a compromise. "A new millennium is coming," he said. But Alonzo and Darl Parham, the chef, looked skeptical, shook their heads and said "but it wouldn't have that.... OOMPH!" But Derrick did get his way by adding pasta dishes, including a hearty vegetarian lasagna.

     The seafood gumbo, made with crab, shrimp, oysters, chicken and beef sausage has both okra and fil powder to give it that "good stickiness."A regular customer told Alonzo a real gumbo "should look like you almost don't want to eat it."

     The list of entrees reads like Sunday dinner at home. Smothered chicken or pork chops come with Mama's gravy, catfish rolled in cornmeal and deep fried, fried chicken, meatloaf, BBQ baby back ribs or chicken, and pan-fried rainbow trout. All come with cornbread and a choice of 2 sides. (A side order sampler is available for those who can't limit their choices to any 2). The recipes come from Mrs. Hill, Ed Hill's mother. She spent 3 months training Parham and still comes up from her New York restaurant to do quality control.

     Homemade peach or apple cobbler and sweet potato pie round out the meal. Cade's is also trying to invigorate downtown's live jazz scene with Friday and Saturday performances in the main dining room upstairs. Cade's, which opened 8 months ago, is located in the site that was previously Churchill's and Monique's. They have retained the old-fashioned, ornate bar and light fixtures downstairs and the sweeping staircase to the second floor dining rooms, which are comfortable and attractive without being fussy. "For a bunch of men I guess we did all right," joked Alonzo.

Cade's Cafe
225 North Liberty Street
Baltimore, MD
(410) 244-5231
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 11-3 & 5-1
Sunday 1-10
Lunch: $6.99-7.99
Dinner Appetizers: $3.99-7.00
Entrees: $9.99-20.99

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