Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pork Chops, Gravy, Biscuits! Oh My!

After a short (ahem) hiatus, I have returned to my post at the wheel of The Seminole Heights Eats Blog. You’ll be hearing from me more frequently (cross my heart), as well as from some other Seminole Height’s residents. We aim to show Tampa that Seminole Heights and our surrounding areas are filled with good food, well, hopefully good food.

I received my “nudge” from Tony today via email.
He wrote: Came across your Blog while looking for the number of Ybor Pizza. What happened? You haven't posted in so long! It's a great Blog. Helpful too. I hope everything is ok?
Yes, Tony, everything is all right. Just got a little consumed with other projects. I do; however, appreciate your comments. So this one is for you.

A few of us took a little tour around Tampa a few weeks ago; you may have read about here and there. If you haven’t, this link we’ll get you up-to-date. There's also some video footage here, for the more adventuresome.
Where as, two more notable bloggers have already posted the hims and haws of this little gem-in-the-rough along Nebraska Ave just shy of Hillsborough, I haven’t and I would like my turn.
I’ve been to this establishment a few times now, but I’ll focus on my first visit.

Walking into Martha’s Place along Nebraska Ave on a Saturday at noon didn’t seem like a good idea at first. The exterior was a block of a white building; however, from the entrance you could hear the hustle and bustle of people dining, food flying, and spouts of laughter. It was the Country Cooking on the building that got me.
You see I am a born and fed Southern girl. My scrambled eggs were made with bacon grease and my collards were chock full of ham hock. We never said Chicken Fried Steak; we said Country Fried Steak and Sundays were spent in the kitchen, all day, cooking a feast big enough for an army.
My husband and I entered, found a seat and stared. The waitress (note: there are no servers in this joint) came to our table and pulled menus from behind the napkin canister that sat on our table and handed one to each. With a big smile she said “Whatchall folks drinking this afternoon?”
“Sweet Tea” said Greg. “Sprite” I replied. As she walked away to retrieve our drinks, I knew this would be good.
The menu is filled with every country breakfast item you can imagine, including catfish. I did notice at that time that just about every person in the place had catfish on their plates, but I just wasn’t feeling the catfish this time around. I spied my all time favorite breakfast almost immediately, fried pork chops, with scrambled eggs, grits, and a biscuit. I was happy. Greg chose his all time favorite, biscuits and sausage gravy. “I gotta try it, a place like this doesn’t exist without having good biscuits and gravy.”
The waitress returns with our drinks promptly, a huge vat of a glass for Greg filled with genuine brewed sweet tea and a can of Sprite with a cup of ice for me. We order, chat for a little bit and to our surprise the waitress arrives maybe 10 minutes later with our order. We could understand the biscuits and gravy being ready-to-serve, but how could fried pork chops come out this fast and the place be this busy?
We both dig. Almost simultaneously we begin to groan with awws of delight. You can read all about the biscuits and gravy here, they are good, no great, if not the best in Tampa. I’ll focus on the lesser-known pork chops.
Fried to a perfection, I received a plate with two honkin’ huge bone in pork chops. The only way to perfect this kind of fried pork chop is to have a deep fryer filled with Crisco (hence the quick time). The kind of pork chops my Mom would make and serve with Hoppin’ Johns. The pork chops were accompanied with perfectly scrambled eggs topped with melted cheese (per my request) and a side of creamy, creamy grits. A lone, gorgeous biscuit tilted to the side of the plate. I was very happy. I decided at that moment, I would choose Martha’s fried pork chops to be the food I would request should I be stranded on a deserted island and could only eat one thing for the rest of my life.
The service at Martha’s was top-notch. Friendly, fast and consistent. The folks at this place, well, I have come to know and they are a great group of ladies. As Jeff Houck of The Tampa Tribune reported, Della (owner of Martha’s) has been forced to sell due to a third bout with cancer. But fear not my friend’s. Della said the new owner has stated he will not change anything. The staff and the menu will remain the same. Let’s hope this is the case.
I highly recommend everyone go to Martha’s on a frequent basis. This is country cooking at it’s best. Perhaps, the owner will keep his word, especially if he sees all of us sitting in the dining room.

4 Possums

5202 N Nebraska Ave
Tampa, FL 33603
(813) 239-1819

Pho An Hoa in Tampa

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