Restaurant recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt; but when Randy Stamm, proprietor of Aiken’s Prime Steakhouse, raves about a place, I am all ears.
The man who is considered by many epicures to be source of downtown Aiken’s finest fine dining told me, “Unique Catering does soul food right. Wednesday is the best day to go, for smothered pork chops.”
Plastic utensils that come with the meal might seem too flimsy for pork chops. But not for Chef Steff Hooper’s chops, which yearn to fall apart. Smothered as they are in gravy, demarcations between meat and bone aren’t easily seen. No problem. Simply poke a fork down, find a soft spot, wiggle the fork a bit and lift. Up comes a bite of melting-tender meat.
Tuesday and Thursday offer fried chicken with a crust so hefty and flavorful that when it is peeled away, it is like a separate dish. The joy of this chicken includes the way it feels in hand: weighty, crunchy, fragile in some places and rugged in others.
Monday is meat loaf day. Chef Hooper’s is a simple loaf, delivered in rectangular slices. Each slice is a concentrated piece of food that is nothing but beef. No pork, no veal, no filler, no distraction other than a dash of spice, a few soft bits of onion and a tomato glaze on top.