A new restaurant on Bayard Street intends to bring soul food to the masses, but in a healthy and unique way.
Soul by the Pound opened on Tuesday at 49 Bayard St., in the space previously occupied by Kairo Kafe.
The restaurant's menu, created by executive chef Emanuel Washington, is a collection of recipes in Washington's arsenal of expertise. Many of the dishes are prepared in a healthier fashion than their traditional counterparts, like baked, grilled and blackened meats, gluten-free and vegan dishes.
Hot food is available inside the restaurant from steam trays, with customers allowed to choose their portion size. Breakfast breads and muffins will be sold outside of the restaurant in the morning, and will be swapped out for desserts in the afternoon.
On the steam tables, patrons will find dishes like "Chef Emanuel's Signature Crunch Chicken and Raspberry Waffles," shrimp and grits, pork chops with honey pecan sauce, salmon croquettes, and the soul food staples of collard greens, macaroni and cheese and Hoppin' John.
Vegan and gluten-free dishes include sauteed cabbage and sweet peppers and "Veggie Vicki," Washington said.
Breakfast selections include egg and bacon sandwiches on biscuits with pan gravy, eggs and grits, and oatmeal. Washington said he also has some specialties planned for the coming holidays.
An acclaimed chef with more than 20 years of culinary experience, Washington previously worked as the Department of Defense Analysis's executive chef and Food Service Director in Washington, D.C. He is also the founder of "Soul Food School," a cooking school in Florida.
A Chicago native, Washington is an authority on soul food.
He has about 200 soul food recipes up his sleeve, he said, and has traveled to a large majority of soul food restaurants around the country to see the cuisine in its different forms and interpretations.
All of the dishes at Soul by the Pound served are at the top of their game and are among his favorites, he said.
That includes the sides, which get just as much attention as the entrees, Washington said.
"I can't say I like the fried chicken better than the barbecued chicken, or the pork chops better than the steak," he said."I put care into them, I put soul into all of our food."
Soul by the Pound is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.