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Southern Kitchen

9576 S Congress St, New Market, VA - (540) 740-3514
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/9/2014 9:38:00 AM
Like veined cheese, sourdough bread, and vintage wine, great country ham awakens that special fascination taste buds have for flavors that teeter on the refined side of rot. Southern Kitchen country ham is brick-red, salty, and powerfully tasty, not for palates who crave the blubbery pink stuff that comes in cans from the supermarket. For true ham-lovers, it is divine, especially with a side order of sweet stewed tomatoes to balance the savory smack of the griddle-sizzled slices of pigmeat.

Ham is great for breakfast, lunch, and supper. The Southern Kitchen’s other four-star specialty is something you want only for lunch or supper: peanut soup. A true Virginia treat, peanut soup can vary from bisque-thick to brothy; the version made by this kitchen tends towards the velvety kind, rich with butter but not thickened with cream, onion-sweet and silky. It is a satisfying soup, but it leaves you enough appetite to move on to one of the other gratifying cafe meals available here, such as ham with raisin sauce, fried chicken, or pan-fried trout from the James River. To finish any one of these exemplary western Virginia spreads, have a wedge of apple or coconut cream pie.

The Southern Kitchen is a supremely casual café that serves locals as well as tourists on their way through the Shenandoah Valley to the Luray Caverns. Seating is at a counter or in booths, and decor includes deer trophies above the booths on the paneled walls as well as beautiful whole hanging country hams (for sale). Place mats are paper; and service, by uniformed waitresses, is speedy and pleasant.

NOTE: Early in 2014, the family that has run the Southern Kitchen for decades sold it. Preliminary visits to the restaurant indicate that it hasn't changed all that much and the food is still good. We'll keep our fingers crossed that it stays on the beam!

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Peanut Soup
Coconut Creme Pie
Country Ham
Sausage
Fried Chicken
Glazed Carrots
Stewed Tomatoes
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

What a lovely country breakfast: cured ham, oven-hot biscuits, and a pair of sunnyside-up eggs. Whole hams, wrapped in burlap, are available for sale near the cash register.
"What a lovely country breakfast: cured ham, oven-hot biscuits, and a pair of sunnyside-up eggs. Whole hams, wrapped in burlap, are available for sale near the cash register."
Michael Stern





Note the softened saltine cracker among the stewed tomatoes that accompany this dinner-size slab of country ham; it's traditional in stewed tomato recipes to include either crackers or white bread, probably to soften the sugar punch.
"Note the softened saltine cracker among the stewed tomatoes that accompany this dinner-size slab of country ham; it's traditional in stewed tomato recipes to include either crackers or white bread, probably to soften the sugar punch."
Michael Stern


Top-of-the-line breakfast at the Southern Kitchen is built around a couple of lovely slices of grilled country ham.
"Top-of-the-line breakfast at the Southern Kitchen is built around a couple of lovely slices of grilled country ham."
Michael Stern


I love country ham so much that I have given fried chicken short shrift in past visits to the Southern Kitchen. That's a mistake I won't make again. This is four-star chicken, with skin so luscious it brought me to my knees in gratitude.
"I love country ham so much that I have given fried chicken short shrift in past visits to the Southern Kitchen. That's a mistake I won't make again. This is four-star chicken, with skin so luscious it brought me to my knees in gratitude."
Michael Stern


A blurry picture of a sharply-seasoned sausage patty. Maybe not as wonderful as the ham, but one of the best breakfast sausages I've had in ages.
"A blurry picture of a sharply-seasoned sausage patty. Maybe not as wonderful as the ham, but one of the best breakfast sausages I've had in ages."
Michael Stern


A close view of Southern Kitchen peanut soup shows that it isn't quite as smooth as it feels on the tongue. Little bits of nut and onion give it extra character. In my book, this is the definitive peanut soup.
"A close view of Southern Kitchen peanut soup shows that it isn't quite as smooth as it feels on the tongue. Little bits of nut and onion give it extra character. In my book, this is the definitive peanut soup."
Michael Stern


The peanut soup at the Southern Kitchen is worth the trip.
"The peanut soup at the Southern Kitchen is worth the trip."
David Peterson


A choice of mementoes in the corner of the dining room near the cash register: Post cards are twenty-five cents each; whole hams can cost nearly fifty dollars.
"A choice of mementoes in the corner of the dining room near the cash register: Post cards are twenty-five cents each; whole hams can cost nearly fifty dollars."
Michael Stern


The evening's last slice of coconut pie!
"The evening's last slice of coconut pie!"
Michael Stern


Even though it was only 8:00 in the morning, they were happy to make a pork chop dinner for me. They weren't that thick, but the pork chops were flavorful and surprisingly juicy.
"Even though it was only 8:00 in the morning, they were happy to make a pork chop dinner for me. They weren't that thick, but the pork chops were flavorful and surprisingly juicy."
Cliff Strutz


What decade is this Formica from?
"What decade is this Formica from?"
Michael Stern


Paneled walls, mounted trophy, juke-box, and well-upholstered benches:  a booth at the Southern Kitchen is an only-in-America place to eat.
"Paneled walls, mounted trophy, juke-box, and well-upholstered benches: a booth at the Southern Kitchen is an only-in-America place to eat."
Michael Stern


Interior of the Southern Kitchen.
"Interior of the Southern Kitchen. "
David Peterson


After dinner: the Southern Kitchen sign glows. It is a beacon of good food in the Shenandoah Valley.
"After dinner: the Southern Kitchen sign glows. It is a beacon of good food in the Shenandoah Valley."
Michael Stern


The sun was just coming up as the front door of the Southern Kitchen opened at 7am.
"The sun was just coming up as the front door of the Southern Kitchen opened at 7am."
Michael Stern


A great time warp experience.
"A great time warp experience."
David Peterson


Before dinner: the Southern Kitchen at dusk.
"Before dinner: the Southern Kitchen at dusk."
Michael Stern



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