Amid the hubbub of University Drive North sits an unassuming building that not long ago was an auto service station. The interior is still reminiscent of the business past. The white tiles on the wall are the same as the ones that adorned the walls of my grandfather’s service station. It’s ripe with personal nostalgia and I loved it right away because of this. The small quaint building contains rumblings of the past, but now even better smells of the future. Its new occupant. Daran’s Southern Soul Food and West Indian Cuisine, produces traditional soul food and other culturally significant dishes.
On Sunday afternoon I decided to indulge. I wandered in at about 4pm and the owner Daryl was there at the door to greet me.
The restaurant’s name is an acronym for the names of his children. The menu at Daran’s is ever changing. This weekend it consisted of fried catfish, barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken, barbecue split, and fried chicken wings. Each meal comes with the option of two sides from a list of five. The options this weekend were mac ‘n cheese, collard greens, potato salad, cabbage, grits, and hush puppies.
Fried chicken is one of my favorite foods. There was no question. I ordered the fried chicken wings. The food was extremely fresh and hot, and the wait reasonable.
I had to wait for the chicken to cool before I could even eat it. This is one of the best signs of a successful kitchen. I can’t stand lukewarm food. The breading on the chicken was crispy and well flavored. I half expected a bit more spice, but I trust the chef’s discretion in seasoning as they have far more experience with the cuisine than I do.
For my sides I picked the collard greens and the candied yams. I had never had collard greens before, and I was unsure what to expect. What I received was far from my previous flawed conceptions. They were delicious!
I expected something slimy and unappealing, and this was far from the case. They were flavorful, and well textured. There were small pieces of smoked turkey amongst them and an overall smoky note throughout. The turkey was boiled in the broth before joining the greens, giving them a meaty complex flavor, something you rarely get from a vegetable dish. Winning!
My second side, the candied yams, were once again unexpected. I usually mash my yams, and they have a salty buttery flavor. These yams were on the opposite side of the flavor spectrum. I would relate the flavor to that of apple sauce, only with a bit more flavor intricacy. There was cinnamon and possibly a bit of nutmeg in the glaze, and while I’m not usually a fan of sweet, these were decadent. As close as as a vegetable can get to a dessert. I would order them again!
As Fargo grows, so will our food choices. This is hopefully an indication of the future of local craft foods. With the growth and increase of diversity in a local economy comes the opportunity for increased specialization and the support for it.
I look forward to what’s next; god knows I’ll be there to eat it.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Daran’s Southern Soul Food and West Indian Cuisine
Tue-Sat, 11am-6pm; Sun 12-6pm (Fri & Sat, Nov 10 & 11: Veteran’s Day Hours may vary)
30 N University Drive, Fargo; 701-566-8792
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