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The soul of Duffy St.

Nothing but warm, fuzzy sounds of satisfaction come out when someone tells me about West Duffy Cafe, a little, off–the–beaten–path Soul Food joint.

The ladies run the house here. Two men were in the kitchen, but I got the distinct impression that the ladies rule this roost where breakfast is cheap and hearty, and lunch is trip down a culinary memory lane.

I wanted chicken, but could barely read the blackboard menu — my eyes couldn’t adjust to the light. I did spy meatloaf  and figured that was a second place contender. I got it to go, along with mashed potatoes – the obligatory foundation of any meatloaf – collard greens and stewed squash.

What you’re seeing with this column is a picture of the cafe — to help you find it. What you won’t see is a shot of the food.

Nothing packed into a foam clamshell looks good after a 15–minute car ride. The meatloaf nestled down into the potatoes the way a flounder eases into the sand. It’s barely visible.

As it turns out, what was not so appealing to the eyes was a gob smack to the taste buds. The meatloaf was not buried under a layer of sugary tomato ketchup – it was honest–to–gosh seasoned, and delivered a nice peppery finish. The potatoes were old–school mash – a little watery, but with big chunks of whole potato still left in here and there for credibility.

As for the greens and squash, I know lots of folks called “chefs” who should go to school at West Duffy. The seasoning is right on the money, the textures are fresh and crisp. Too many “chefs” overcook veggies — collards in particular — and are afraid to hit ‘em with the seasonings. There is no fear at West Duffy Cafe.

A cornbread muffin accompanied the plate – and it was my only disappointment – dry and crumbly. This big ol’ plate o’ chow and a giant sweet tea ran just under $10 – a bargain by any yardstick. There are a few seats inside, but this is mostly carry–out.

224 W. Duffy St./(912) 234–6550

Vegetarian dinner

I’m hosting a vegetarian dinner at Taco Abajo June 26 at 6:30 p.m., and I’m pairing it with vegan beers from England’s Samuel Smith Brewery. Four courses and dessert – and five beers – is $35 per person. Call Taco Abajo at 480–9050 for reservations, or check out the menu on Facebook (Taco Abajo). Come out, eat vegetarian and let’s talk about food.

Paso Robles winemaker & dinner at 700 Drayton

One of my favorite wine makers,  and a great ambassador for his brands will lead a wine dinner at 700 Drayton on June 28 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Adam LaZarre of Villa San Juliette and LaZarre wines is a frequent visitor to Savannah, and has a good following here for his creations. No menu yet, but expect five to six courses with wines. The dinner is $75 per person; call Denise Joy, 721–5035, for reservations.