Southern comfort food has come to downtown Redmond.
Pat and Elaine Byrd, a husband and wife, have opened Carolina Kitchen, specializing in barbecue and Southern cuisine, at 8461 164th Ave. NE.
Pat grew up in North Carolina and has replicated tried-and-true favorites from his home state, including some of his mom’s own recipes. His background is in Information Technology and this is his first stab at running a restaurant. But he’s not worried.
“We’ve done a lot of backyard barbecues, serving large crowds,” he noted. “Everyone loved the food and people kept telling us, ‘Open a restaurant!’ The majority of things on our menu are homemade. We make our own sauce with a vinegar base. It’s a thin sauce with a vinegar base, not what most people here are used to, but they like it. We also make a thicker Texas-style sauce with tang.”
Another difference between Carolina Kitchen and some other Eastside barbecue joints, Pat pointed out, is that “we specialize in not drowning the meat — the meat will stand up to anybody’s.”
His “Mom’s Coleslaw” recipe also prominently features vinegar which “sits overnight and breaks down the cabbage,” he said.
Other specialties include barbecue pulled pork and hush puppies made in-house. Collard greens and sweet corn bread are also popular sides.
“And our peach cobbler and Pepsi Cola Cake are to die-for,” Pat stated.
Unfamiliar with Pepsi Cola Cake, we asked if this was a well-known Southern dessert.
“Uh … sort of,” said the Byrds, snickering. “Most people know it as Coca- Cola Cake. But Coca-Cola is Atlanta-based,” Elaine explained.
Pat nodded, “My dad would kill me if we called it that (Coca-Cola Cake).”
Katie Erkkila, front manager at Carolina Kitchen, said a chicken, sausage and rice dish called Chicken Bog is selling well.
“It’s similar to Jambalaya, but we serve it with a pat of butter. It’s not a red Cajun sauce.”
Another dish called Frogmore Stew is being taken off the menu because it confused people. They thought it contained frogs, when in fact, it was more like a shrimp stew, said Erkkila.
Although most of their patrons don’t have Southern roots, the Byrds said they’re seeing a lot of the same faces again and again. The couple lives in Kirkland but chose Redmond as the right place for Carolina Kitchen because there wasn’t anyone else focusing on the type of food they serve.
And as if starting a restaurant wasn’t enough to keep them busy, they welcomed a baby boy named John Patrick on Nov. 23.
At some point, they’d like to network with other downtown Redmond businesses.
But for now, they have a Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and they encourage neighbors to stop in and say hello.
For more information about Carolina Kitchen, call (425) 883-1080.