My friend and fellow foodie, Andreas, and I recently met up with Randy Stricklin-Witherspoon at his new eatery on 51rst Street. Randy’s journey from the South to Broadway to culinary arts is as impressive, colorful and robust as his cuisine — he is a fascinating guy both inside and outside of the kitchen. Following is the scoop and dish on Spoonfed NYC.
A native of South Carolina, Randy started out in the U.S. Military. After his service, he eventually migrated north with a lure towards Broadway. He has gone from dressing actors and stitching costumes for the Great White Way to becoming a popular caterer for gypsies, hoofers, belters and some of the best in the business. Fans of his cooking include James Earl Jones, Patti Lupone as well as casts and crew members from Wicked, Les Miserables, Kinky Boots and Hamilton, just to name a few. He has become so popular backstage that Patti Lupone once decided to interview him and announce his menu to the cast over the house microphone.
A rustic sign stating, “Eat like you mean it, Honey” greeted us on a pole at his first brick and mortar establishment in Hell’s Kitchen. A well-manicured display of fresh herbs, greens and ivy adorn a fire engine red wall that welcomes guests down a few steps to the entrance and outdoor seating area. Once inside, the bar area is beautifully appointed with colorful pictures under industrial lighting and a faux tin ceiling — it’s like walking into a place in the hospitable south that has been in business for decades but still current, fresh and inviting. The interior has been completely redesigned since the previous owners of Vlada, a Russian vodka gay bar.
The food is not exactly Cajun or Creole but Low Country as Randy explains. “Low country is regional to South Carolina – it’s considered the mother of cuisine. The meats are marinated and the process is very slow for the best flavors.” The sharing plates include Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, Smoked Ham Collard Greens, Candied Pork Belly & Brussels. The vast menu also includes vegetarian and vegan options as well as gluten-free selections. Yes, he has Grits and Black Eye Pea Cold Salad. The Candied Pork Belly and Brussels (above) are packed with flavor, smokey, and hearty yet slightly sweet, the combinations of flavors explode in your mouth.
Spoonfed NYC is becoming the hub for comfort food in midtown. The Cuh’n Becky’s Fried Okra is deep fried okra served with Garlic Comeback Sauce. I was never a fan of okra until I tried this dish. The popular Mac and “Allota” Cheese dish is mouthwatering and lives up to its claim regarding the generous cheese factor.
Note: All sauces are the creation of Randy’s business partner and husband, Mark.
The entrée selection includes Shrimp and Grits, Fried Chicken and Brookshaw Bisquit, Mary Jeanne’s Chicken Fried Meatloaf, Ribs and Skirt Steak. Another suggestion is to indulge with the Truffle Sweet Potato Hush Puppies (above). Did I mention it’s all about comfort food?
Spoonfed NYC also provides a Lil kid’s menu and there is a Gospel Brunch on Sundays. The second floor has an acoustic performance space and acknowledging Randy’s connections, there is bound to be some hot talent showing up.
Andreas and I left the restaurant sated and members of the Low Country fan club. Intoxicated with so much food, I swore The “Eat like you mean it, Honey” sign was swinging in the breeze as if waving goodbye and saying ‘Y’all come back soon, ya hear.’
331 West 51 Street
Between 8th and 9th Avenues
New York, NY 10019
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