If I was still living on the East Coast and was writing about a place like Punk's Simple Southern Food, I'd write a lede that grouses about how far we are from the kind of weather appropriate for outdoor picnics. But now I look at the five-day forecast and I see that the temperature is supposed to hit the high 60s and low 70s this weekend. I can't grouse anymore.
Back east we foodies would anticipate warm weather because it meant a few things, but mainly al fresco dining; the presence of locally available, from-the-ground fruits and vegetables; and the ability to take some food outside, sit somewhere, and enjoy it.
That third point is the kind of thing that makes Punk's an attractive place. Punk's has outdoor seating (including the kind where you're in a condominium courtyard), and keeps a relatively chipper noise level. It looks and sounds warm. Plus, there's crispy fried chicken and deviled eggs here, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and banana pudding. If you walked into Punk's carrying a coated paper bucket, is that so wrong?
Recently I tried Punk's, of course springing for the fried chicken. Now, I'm not discriminatory with poultry: If you put a piece of fried chicken in front of me, I will eat the whole piece. That said, though I wished for more of a tangier punch, I loved the crunch, and the meat was perfectly juicy. One of the better birds I've had in a while, though I have plenty more fried chicken spots to visit here.
I grabbed a couple snacks and sides, liking the zippy (and not so rich) deviled eggs the most. I'm partial to cheesier (as opposed to milkier) macaroni and cheeses, and Punk's' didn't disappoint. And while the hushpuppies, with kernels of corn packed inside, were quite good, the spicy remoulade was too good to resist, becoming the reason I ate more hushpuppies than I had anticipated. I started dipping my biscuit in it.
Punk's has a big menu, and you'd have to visit a couple times to get the whole thing down. Thus, there's still a lot left for me to discover, including the oyster BLT and Salisbury steak.
But, really, when there's a perfectly good fried chicken available, plus comfortable sides, why wouldn't you wish warm-weather picnics on you and yours?