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New: A Taste of Soul Gets Legit with Its Old-School Southern Dishes and Caribbean Flavors

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News

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Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on June 8, 2022
A Taste of Soul / Photo courtesy of A Taste of Soul

Given a shot of adrenaline by the pandemic, Buffalo’s underground food scene is booming and occasionally, an underground kitchen is so successful — it has to get legit.

That’s the origin story behind A Taste of Soul, which recently opened a new location on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.

Khilialah Reese — aka Ms. Country — made a name for herself selling food on a Facebook group for local cooks. While food being sold on social media might look and taste good, if it’s not prepared in a licensed commercial kitchen, selling it goes against local health codes.

A combination of business being good and group moderators looking to shut down her illicit operation drove Ms. Country out of the underground.

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A Taste of Soul / Photo courtesy of A Taste of Soul
A Taste of Soul / Photo courtesy of A Taste of Soul

“Once (moderators) find out you’re cooking in your kitchen at home,” she explains, “they start banning you. So because I didn’t want to get permanently banned, I ended up looking for ways to get legit.”

“The pandemic is what made the strong come out,” she adds. “Because I’m not the only restaurant that came out during the pandemic.”

With a bit of financial help from her husband, Ms. Country spent months wandering through the culinary wilderness, trying to find a home for A Taste of Soul. She got a food trailer. She rented commissary space at The Broadway Market. She rented a kitchen in the Horsefeathers building on the West Side. She spent time on Hertel Avenue and now she’s landed on Elmwood, near Bryant Street.

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A Taste of Soul / Photo courtesy of A Taste of Soul
A Taste of Soul / Photo courtesy of A Taste of Soul

The current menu at A Taste of Soul reflects the unique background of its owner. With a father who she says was “fresh off the banana boat” and having lived in North Carolina, Ms. Country prepares a combination of Caribbean food and soul food. Menu highlights include Jamaican oxtails, Southern fried chicken, fried fish, collard greens and candied yams.

“I cook fresh, old-school food,” she says. “My collard greens — I chop ‘em down every day. The chicken isn’t straight out the box: We clean and debone every piece of chicken. We peel yams with our hands and cut them down.”

The emphasis on scratch cooking is clearly what made A Taste of Soul an underground success, and the new Elmwood location is booming, often with a line of people coming out the door.

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A Taste of Soul / Photo courtesy of A Taste of Soul
A Taste of Soul / Photo courtesy of A Taste of Soul

Another secret to the restaurant’s success? A slice of poundcake with every dinner order. Ms. Country says the idea came from cooking fish fry fundraiser dinners for her Pentecostal church.

“Cause a lot of people say when they eat dinner,” she says, “they just want a little something sweet, not too heavy, at the end. And that poundcake is right on time.”

Ms. Country says success on Elmwood has come with growing pains, and she’s currently looking to hire more staff. But given that she’s in the business of selling the food she loves, and doing it legit,  growing pains are good problems to have.

“I had a dream, and I just moved my feet,” she explains. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I just wanted to do it right.  Every step of the way, I asked questions and got into form. I got to how I needed to be, so I could get here. Now, I’m just excited to keep going!”

Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Tuesday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. – 2 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday CLOSED

A Taste of Soul

423 Elmwood Ave Buffalo, NY 14222 • $$

Soul FoodCaribbeanSouthern

Buffalo

Fast Casual / Counter Service

We're an Take-out Soul Food Shack. We provide brunch $ dinner! We're open Wednesday- Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.'We Guarantee our Food to be Tasty!' Read ...

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/brett-smith/" target="_self">Brett Llenos Smith</a>

Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Brett Llenos Smith is a freelance writer based in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood who has been covering local food and culture for the Step Out Buffalo over the past six years. As someone with a multi-ethnic background, he has a passion for exploring and understand the many diverse corners of Western New York.
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