Tom's Home Cookin'
May 09, 2006
Tom’s Home Cookin’ in Five Points (a neighborhood just east of downtown Denver) is a monument to American southern cuisine. A good friend brought me there to eat for the first time in early March just after a frightful snowstorm (we now go whenever the weather is crummy or it’s a Friday and I need to have a meat fixin’). The train ride and 3 block walk led us to a little house just off of Clarkson and east 26th avenue that had a line trailing out the door and around the block. Hordes of people were bustling in and out of the house with Styrofoam to go containers and tall cups filled with sweet tea and southern lemonade. For only $7.96 (cash only, Tom’s don’t believe in holdin’ up the gravy line for your credit card or check to clear), a person can walk out of Tom’s with one main dish and two sides, and a drink from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weighing nearly 5 pounds and adding about 10 to your thighs.
On a typical day, Tom’s will have 6 main dishes (3 permanent--Fried Chx, BBQ Pork, Catfish-- and 3 rotating) and at least 6 sides to choose from (did you know that in the south, peach cobbler is a side?!!). For example, the menu might look like this: Fried chicken, Meatloaf, Catfish, Chicken & dumplings, BBQ pork, Country fried steak w/gravy, Collard greens, Green beans, Mac & cheese, Mashed potatoes, Peach cobbler, Candied yams, Broccoli rice & cheese casserole, Cabbage w/bacon. On really lucky days, I am also faced with choosing between black eyed peas and green beans, or gumbo over rice and shrimp & grits.
Now that you are salivating, I have to share that at Tom’s you also get the pleasure of your nose, as well as your tongue, stomach, and brain, feeling tingly, relaxed and somewhat food happy because of the aroma and taste of so many saturated fats, including real butter, bacon lard, and chicken drippings. One bite of the MP&G (that’s mashed potatoes & gravy to you untrained Tom virgins) or crispy fried boneless catfish sends you into a euphoria; the serotonin suddenly spikes and then you understand, with the warm peach cobbler and its flaky crust breaking up in your mouth, that this is what southern “comfort” food is like. The blues you came in with suddenly turn rosy, and the work left piling up at your desk seems to disappear from view as your stomach expands and the food coma sets in. If you manage to finish all that food, I have to warn you that getting any work done is futile because your body won’t know what to do with that goodness you just inhaled except shut down and go to sleep.
With that thought in your mind the pictures featured in this post are of a partly eaten catfish with sides of mac & cheese, and the broccoli & cheese casserole, and my favorite, the chicken & dumplings with mp&g and side of cabbage & bacon (did I mention also that these dishes come with a serving of cornbread, plain or jalapeno??). In the words of the Westward food review for Tom’s in November 2002, “God Bless America” (for the dirty south and it’s amazing gourmandize).
Blogger Post Script: My roomie, the Baking Fool has finally graced the pages of Blogger.com with her fabulous baking arsenal. I don't do dessert, so be sure to check her site out for sweet finds post-dinner.