Pork chops and portobello

Best Soul Food (Oakland County)
Beans & Cornbread

When one establishment is voted Best Soul Food Restaurant in Oakland County three years in a row, that’s some indication that the title is not an oxymoron. (Either that or the competition is weak.) Patrick Coleman’s Beans & Cornbread is popular for families after church on Sundays, for couples on a Saturday night, or for carry-out anytime. Native Detroiter Coleman, whose closest lineage from the South was his great-great-grandmother, packs them in for pork chops, pinto beans, peach cobbler and the occasional portobello. It’s soul food that stays true to its bloodlines, with a few concessions to Oakland County culinary leanings. The salmon croquettes, for example, are served with collards and portobellos, and drizzled with a roasted-red pepper butter.

B&C is a cloth napkin and candles kind of place, decorated with a tasteful dark-green and purple color scheme. Photos of African-American heroes — John Coltrane, Satchel Paige, Paul Robeson and Lena Horne — line the walls, and Sarah Vaughan croons in the background.

Look out for the Harlem burrito: a grilled tortilla stuffed with greens, diced tomatoes and hoppin’ John and served with “Spanish Harlem salsa” of fresh tomatoes and cilantro. Sweet and tangy barbecued pork chops are another good choice. Warm sweet-potato muffins and the eponymous cornbread keep you company until the main course arrives. Each entrée is served with three sides; take your pick from a list of 12.

Coleman has now created his own competition by opening Mo’ Beans & Cornbread a few miles away. It’s a diner with a shorter menu (no jerk chicken or potato-encrusted salmon) and somewhat lower prices. It appears there’s room for two good soul food joints in Southfield. Business at the original Beans & Cornbread, our readers’ favorite restaurant, has not suffered at all.

Jane Slaughter is a frequent contributor to the Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected]