It’s taken me far too long to discover this Renton gem, but as I recently passed by Geri’s Casual Dining on my way to the bank, I got a good feeling and stopped in to get the scoop. Maybe it was the handwritten list of menu items (pork chops, fried catfish) advertised outside that grabbed my attention. Maybe I was just looking for a breather from my walk to the bank from Skyway, but I’m so glad I walked into this Soul Food find...
Peering inside, I stepped in to an empty, yet dressed up, dining room and started talking with Hope, Geri’s daughter, as her nephew coyly clung to her leg. This is a family business that wears its heart on its sleeve and takes pride in home cooking. I enlisted a true Southern soul food expert to go back with me, and Geri’s passed with flying colors.
It took me several visits to actually meet Geri, herself, but daughter Hope is a gracious host and kitchen saint. She is like a big bowl of Peach Cobbler: smile-inducing, warm, and homey. Had it been a sunny day, I would have gulped down some of their Sweet Tea. We went with water to make room for everything else.
They were out of a few items, so our choices were narrowed down some, but every bit delicious. No Smoked Pork Ribs, Rib Tips or Oxtails on review day. While I was slightly disappointed, Hope brought us more food than we could possibly eat, in addition to stories and laughter. For under $50, we left completely sated, and loaded with leftovers.
Fate led me to Geri’s Meatloaf ($11.99) a Parlor-Sized-Slice of a well-seasoned classic. This is truth is advertising, “made with love just like Mama’s.” Truth be told, I never liked my mom’s Midwestern meatloaf with its ketchupy sweet glaze. Geri’s is closer to an Italian-style Polpettone, rich with softened bread crumbs and onion. Ms. Geri and Hope, you made a meatloaf lover out of me.
If you go for fast food, $12 might seem expensive, but entrees come with two sides (there are nine sides to choose from and it was a tough decision), so I had to taste Geri’s macaroni and cheese, and collard greens. It is a meal and a half — I brought home half of my meal and enjoyed it the next day. Geri believes in promoting healthier Southern cooking, so you won’t find meat in her stewed collards. My mouth might have missed the smoked ham hocks, but my heart didn’t. The creamy macaroni and cheese certainly is an indulgence that I’d like to repeat.
My Southern-expert dining companion waffled a bit, but decided to go with the Fried Chicken (dark meat $10.99, white meat $11.99). And he lent one heck of an endorsement to the Red Beans and Rice: “This reminds me of home.” He asked for a bowl of sugar as is apparently a Southern tradition. This was gladly obliged, the macaroni and cheese was dually noted as delicious and the chicken (available only in strips that night) was down-home delicious.
Not in the mood for a full dinner? The menu offers four sandwich options to choose from between $6 and $9, from Pork Chops to BBQ Beef Brisket. But how can you resist one of Geri’s side dishes? Life is too short to go without a little extra love in your food.
The hushpuppies ($3.50 for a large portion) are presented with honey. Huge and a little hard-shelled for my taste. BUT, the sweet fried corn nuggets sample we got are one of the tastiest soul treats I’ve popped in my mouth. They blow the hushpuppies right out of the Mississippi River.
Clutching our bellies, I urged us on to try at least one dessert: a ‘small’ portion of Peach Cobbler ($3) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (75 cents). I leave the review of Geri’s Red Velvet Cake unto you (and my next time), but this was Delta heaven with flaky cobbler, tender peach slices, scoops of cream melting into our bowl in luscious rivulets.
Geri’s Casual Dining & Catering
509 S. 3rd St, suite B
Renton, WA 98057
Sun-Fri 12 PM - 9 PM