Students from nearby Columbia University, uptown church ladies, savvy New Yorkers, and VIP's (like former President Clinton) all feel at home in this inexpensive, soul-food restaurant. The owner, the Caterer and former Wilhemina model, Norma Jean Darden, serves comfort food based on family recipes from Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine, the best-selling cookbook she wrote with her sister, Carole.
The bright and cozy dining room with its red and white checkerboard tile floor and ruffled strawberry curtains is modeled after their mother, Miss Mamie Jean Sampson Darden's, Alabama kitchen.
School teacher, social worker and businesswoman, Miss Mamie were (according to her daughters) "one of the most 'liberated' women we ever knew. "Adventurous and well traveled, she sampled many cuisines from around the world but loved best the food of her own Southern and Midwestern roots.
Try former President Clinton's favorite: the "Miss Mamie Sampler" with shrimp, short ribs, and chicken. The New York Post says "on its own or smothered in gravy, Spoonbread's is the best-fried chicken in NYC!"
Or skip the main course entirely and sample some delicious sides like a basket of mildly spicy corn bread, creamy mashed potatoes, grits, or candied yams bathed in orange and pepper. But don't skip the delectable deserts like Miss Mamie's banana bread pudding, fruit cobbler or the apple pie.