Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Yvonne's Southern Cuisine Restaurant

Every place has a story; a history that runs deep and allows it to become itself. In America some of that history always comes borrowed from other places in other times. It is a particularly American irony that the soul of each place, what makes it uniquely what it is, so often starts with a some other place’s history, a story carried with the people who came to it. And so it is here; Westchester is made of borrowed histories and things brought to it by transplants from the City and places more distant.

We are fortunate that Yvonne Parker has brought to Westchester the authentic food of the American South. At Yvonne’s Southern Cuisine Restaurant in Pelham, Ms. Parker serves traditional African American and Southern dishes with warmth and style. Yvonne’s has become a Westchester institution – but don’t let that fool you; the food is alive with its tradition (not resting on it) and the true generosity of a cook welcoming guests to her table.

One dish borrowed from one place to another, and that is never quite the same in any two places, is Jerk Chicken. The Jerk at Yvonne’s is profound. This chicken, rubbed deeply in spices and brushed in a dark sauce of heat and juices, is an all consuming sensation of Island flavor. The ordinary bird is utterly transformed into a new creation of tang, brown, fire and succulence. The pieces are moist and plentiful but no matter how many you eat you will still be longing for just another taste tomorrow.

Bathed in a sweet and smokey tomato sauce, the Barbequed pork ribs are the taste of
Southern que. The fat rippled meat easily slides off the bone with the pull of a fork or a gentle toothy bite. There are many types of barbequed ribs and people can get rather, well, testy over which is the “True Que.” There are great arguments and brawls over St. Louis Style versus Carolina Que. If you want to slug it out with Bobby Flay, by all means…. I’m not getting in the middle of all that here. Let’s just say, if you like them tender, sweet and saucy these ribs will satisfy.

The dark browned ox tails, slow cooked and served in the rich sauce from the stew pot, please with a meaty and full textured straight on taste of beef. These are thick cuts of meat with big flavor.

Now, I love canned string beans. They remind me of dinner at my grandmother’s. I know, I know. I’ve had green beans fresh from the field prepared by some renowned chefs and I don’t confuse masterful cooking with the Green Giant – but hidden between the taste molecules in the salty faded kind, cut and canned, are ghosts whispering of meals had on sleepy nights, in soft pajamas on pillowed couches at my Nana’s house. So I’m gonna keep on loving those beans - and the green beans at Yvonne’s. Only, the beans at Yvonne’s have a multi-layered flavor from cooking along side some smokey ham. So even if you don’t associate salty boiled beans with love and comfort (yet) you can enjoy Yvonne’s side of green beans.

The candied yams are alone worth the trip to Pelham. These small orange boulders of soft sweet tubers burst with earthy flavor and subterranean sugars. Rice and beans come with pieces of sausage tumbled in the mix. The black eyed peas are delicate to the bite and drenched in a brothy sauce that nudges the beans a couple of degrees up in flavor.

There are many dishes to discover or re-discover at Yvonne’s. And there is no comparing Yvonne’s to any other food in the Burbs. It stands alone as a source for great cuisine in the Southern tradition. A tradition carried here has become our own. In borrowing the history of the smoke, sauce, sweet and stewed comforts of the South, Yvonne’s enriches the borrowed soul of the Burbs. How American. How delicious.

Yvonne's Southern Cuisine
503 Fifth Avenue, Pelham. (914) 738-2005

1 comment:

Smoobie said...

After a family funeral, we all went to Yvonne's for the repast. An all you could eat buffet had been set up; fried chicken, fried fish, collards, candied yams, potato salad, mac and cheese, pigs feet and on the table were dishes of hot corn bread and pitchers of lemonade and tea. In my husbands family, his Aunt Mae made the best fried chicken anyone has ever eaten. She used to sell dinners on Friday night and made some pretty good money. Aunt Mae passed a few yrs ago and until we tasted Yvonnes fried chicken all we could do was complain. Oh my God!!! That chicken was almost as good as Aunt Mae's. Crispy skin, well seasoned and moist. The mac and cheese was delicious as were the greens. Everything was great and if you're hankerin for some good soul food, Yvonnes is the place.