Patrick Coleman admits he might have made a few mistakes when he opened his soul food restaurant.
Putting escargots on the menu was one of them. But that was 20 years ago, when he first set up shop in the small strip mall where Beans & Cornbread is still going strong, and he quickly remedied the situation and settled into what has been a successful run.
And as he looks back on a couple of decades of serving down-home fare such as catfish, meatloaf and fried chicken, he knows he struck the right chord with the menu and by not trying to get too big or too fancy.
The dimensions of the dining room and the small adjoining cocktail bar, plus a room for private parties, are just right, with tables close together, but still comfortable.
Both the lunch and dinner menus start with gumbo, Louisiana style, thick with andouille sausage, rice, chunks of chicken, and shrimp and it has a well balanced spice level, not too hot and not too bland.
Other dishes that have been standbys include chicken wings and smothered pork chops, all been prepared since day one by one of the baseball-capped cooks in the kitchen in the rear.
One of the most popular selections is not on the menu, but regulars are aware of the “Swamp Thang,” which combines fried catfish over rice, layered with collard greens and smothered in gumbo, then topped off with two jumbo shrimp. A microcosm of down-home Southern cooking on a plate.
Sides are essential in Southern cooking, and the list of sides goes on and on, from red beans and rice to candied sweet potatoes, to collard greens and macaroni and cheese, all carefully prepared.
Sunday brunch, served buffet style, is especially popular and it goes from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. with music by Dal Bouey to make it special.
Service is friendly and accommodating by a staff that reflects the proprietor, who is almost always on hand to make sure people are well taken care of, and his friendly personality is part of the scene — and the success of Beans & Cornbread.
And those delicious little sweet potato muffins, a signature item, are still on the menu, too.
Beans & Cornbread
29508 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield
Call: (248) 208-1680
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Lunch soup $5-$6, $2-$4-sides $2-$4, entrees $10-$15.50, dinner appetizers $3.50-$10, entrees $15-$17, including sides, desserts $3.50.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate to high.
Wheelchair access: No barriers.
Parking: Attached parking.
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding