I went to New York City to visit friends, all of whom worked in top-notch restaurants, and asked which place they loved best. Much to my surprise, no one mentioned Jean Georges or Le Bernardin. Instead, it was a barbecue joint in Harlem. Is it curious that even people who make their living searing foie gras and roasting monkfish crave the humblest food? Few people would choose escargot as a last meal. Many would opt for a burger or corn on the cob or pork chops and gravy. Maybe that is why they call it soul food. All of this brings me (and hopefully you) to Abundant Bistro. Run by enterprising chef Jacqueline Williams, it offers no-frills Southern comfort food such as succulent smothered baked chicken and fantastic fried catfish (with a whisper of cinnamon in the crispy cornmeal crust). It is hard to choose sides—collard greens cooked for hours to buttery tenderness, okra, cornbread dressing—but choose you must, as two are included with each entrée. Then again, with nearly everything priced under $10, you can splurge for a third or go whole hog and get the peach cobbler too.
609 University Ave. W., St. Paul, 651-209-1707