LuCretia’s Kitchen, as good as soul food gets

Support Black-owned restaurants and other Black-owned businesses, too! You’ve heard me yell this for quite a while. I often head west of Ninth Street for a good meal and a friendly welcome, and I urge you to do the same. Erasing that imaginary, unnecessary wall that cuts off Louisville’s West End from the rest of Louisville is the important and right thing to do.

This was true when I wrote it about Roof Top Grill and Galan’s Meat Market & Grille and Irma Dee’s and Big Momma’s Soul Kitchen and more. It’s more important than ever right now, as crowds fill the streets shouting the names of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee and, across the nation, George Floyd and many more African American victims of police encounters gone murderously wrong.

Some march and chant and go face to face with warrior police. The rest of us ought to do something, not just to stand against police brutality of African Americans but to stand against systemic racism. One very good way to start is by heading for a Black-owned business or several and giving them our attention, our money and our friendly smiles, valuing them as brothers and sisters who need our support now more than ever because #BlackLivesMatter.

There’s plenty of choice right here in Louisville. You’ll find our local directory of nearly 90 Black-owned restaurants all over the city in this issue of LEO. Pick one, go, get some food, make a friend and enjoy! Take your money, make your choice or just follow in my footsteps to LuCretia’s Kitchen, a soul food eatery with roots in The West End’s African American barbecue heritage.

LuCretia’s Kitchen opened three years ago in the kitchen incubator building just west of 18th Street on Muhammad Ali Boulevard, but owner Lucretia Thompson’s love affair with cooking goes back a lot further to when she would help her family prepare vegetables and cook the barbecue sauce that they called Liquid Gold for her grandfather’s Thompson’s BBQ, a landmark at 15th Street and Broadway.

The restaurant is gone now, but LuCretia’s Kitchen is gaining popularity and justly so: Our takeout meal ordered from there recently was as good as soul food gets, showing care and skill in the preparation of every bite. And you’ll be happy to know that they still make the Liquid Gold sauce.

A filling meal from LuCretia’s is tightly packed into a plastic foam box.

The blackboard menu requires a little navigating but be assured that it broadly represents the world of soul food. LuCretia’s Kitchen features a special dish each day it is open: Wing Wednesday, Rib Tip Thursday, Fried Fish Friday and get it all on Soul Food Sunday.

Wing Wednesday offers whole jumbo wings from $8 for four to $20 for 20! On Rib Tip Thursday, ribs and rib tip dinners are $12. Fried Fish Friday offers a catfish or whiting dinner for $12 or salmon croquettes for $10. A half-dozen other soul food dinners available daily range from $10 (for grilled or fried chicken salad) to $15 (for a brisket dinner). A turkey club sandwich is $10; and fried or baked chicken, fried pork chop or meatloaf dinners are $10.99; and salmon croquettes are $12. Dinners come with choice of two sides from a dozen delights such as greens, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, coleslaw, cornbread and more.

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We ordered by phone, were given an arrival time about 20 minutes later and rolled up out front with just a few minutes to spare before they brought our bagged meal out to the front porch of the Chef Space building. We paid, took dinner home and enjoyed some of the best soul food we have eaten.

Plated to enjoy at home, LuCretia’s boneless whiting fillets are fried crisp, flaky and perfectly cooked. They were served with excellent greens, macaroni and cheese and a block of cornbread. | Photos by Robin Garr.

Plated to enjoy at home, LuCretia’s boneless whiting fillets are fried crisp, flaky and perfectly cooked. They were served with excellent greens, macaroni and cheese and a block of cornbread.

Two very crisply fried, curled fillets of whiting were perfect: boneless, flaky and not soggy. The delicious flavor of whiting is a childhood memory: mild but not bland, somewhere between cod and catfish on the “fishy” scale. The coating, which appeared to be a mix of flour with a little cornmeal and a whiff of garlic, was crisp and stuck tightly to the fish.

You know you’ve found an expert chef when even macaroni and cheese is perfect. Tender but not mushy elbow macaroni was coated with a smooth, velvety cheese sauce with a complex flavor of sharp cheddar and perhaps a hint of cayenne.

LuCretia’s cornbread is light and crumbly and delicious. It went great here as a next-day add-on to our own Mexican beans.

The greens were among the best we’ve had, too. Long-cooked collards were simple and delicious, gently smoky and tender, not at all sweet. A big block of light yellow cornbread was excellent, too. It was light and crumbly, with a crisp edge. I couldn’t resist heating up a bowl of my own leftover Mexican beans to eat with the cornbread.

The happy flavors did not stop with dessert: A huge brownie was amazing. It was crusty on the top and moist and chewy inside, with what seemed like a hint of almond flavor behind the chocolate.

A filling lunch came to a thrifty $16.43. The point-of-sale tablet calculated a $4.11 tip, but thinking it over now, for a lunch that cheap while restaurants are struggling with the pandemic, I’d just as soon forget the pandemic and fork over a couple of fivers for a lunch that modest in price.

LuCretia’s Kitchen
1812 W Muhammad Ali Blvd.
294-8143
facebook.com/LucretiasKitchen

About the Author

Storyteller and seeker. Writer, editor, recovering metro journalist; playwright, poet, once a classical DJ. Hard-core food-and-drink geek, serious home cook. Seminary grad, part-time Episcopal preacher. Did I say eclectic? Deeply rooted Louisville native who’s lived in NYC, LA and the Bay Area; political junkie and unapologetic leftie. Covering the Louisville dining scene in print media since the 1980s, and doing it online since 1994.

@RobinGarr

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