Take a quick detour off the LIE at Exit 64 and head just a bit south on Route 112 to find one of the newest Southern comfort food joints on Long Island. Inside one of the area’s ubiquitous suburban shopping plazas is Carolina Kitchen of Medford where you can get no-nonsense comfort food from morning to night.
The name was inspired by the owners’ family history.
“My grandmother’s family is from Carolina and we went with some of her recipes,” said one of the owners in a phone interview.
The owners are a local husband and wife team. While they haven’t run a restaurant before, what they lack in commercial experience, they make up for in down home cooking for a large family.
“We have a big Fourth of July party and people are always asking “is your wife cooking?”
That’s when the idea for a Southern-themed, home cooking restaurant came to them.
“It’s a dream that came to us.”
Photo: Carolina Kitchen of Medford website.
Hoping to make their mark on the local community they are also betting that guests staying at nearby hotels will come by for a quick bite as an alternative to the standard fare. Hours are convenient for the early risers. They open at 6am from Monday through Saturday and serve until 8pm. They are closed Sundays.
So far online reviews have been mostly positive. But, the owners are very engaging online and will not shy away from responding to negative reviews as well as the positive.
“I took my family there for breakfast on New Year’s Eve,” wrote Dan D on Google. “The food was fresh and tasty. The service was great and the staff was very friendly. It was a very clean atmosphere. The owners took a moment to ensure we were having exceptional service. It was a 20 minute drive, but definitely worth it. We will be back.”
In response to a one-star review the owners addressed the issue of the reviewer.
“Although this is not the review we look for, It is also just as important,” the owner wrote. “If there is anyway we can better serve you please let us know. Feel free to stop in and let's discuss the issue… Thank you and Happy holidays!”
They insist on making everything from scratch. They only serve chicken legs and wings right now to make sure they are cleaning and prepping the food the right way as they learn what works and how to make everything as fresh as possible. They said that other restaurants are buying pre-fried chicken something they haven't even considered doing.
“I didn’t even know that existed.”
The stand-out breakfast is the French toast.
“They love the French toast!”
Of course they have chicken and waffles too, which is four big squares and two pieces of chicken.
You’ll want to try the fried chicken with a side of mac & cheese. They also serve burgers and combo chicken meals. Barbeque ribs and sweet potatoes with marshmallows were just added to the menu to broaden their offerings. There are enough sides to satisfy with traditionals like mashed potato and baked beans as well as collard greens and spinach with peppers.
They are continuing to expand and experiment with the menu. With the idea of serving up the kind of food you would find in your grandmother’s kitchen.
“We want it to be really accessible to everybody. We want you to feel at home.”
Right now everything is served in plastic containers (they are going to experiment with cardboard boxes) which gives it an authentic feel of a place where you’re going to want extra napkins. And they really want customers to be satisfied.
“We want everyone to leave full.”
Location: 2717A NY-112, Medford, (631) 569-5993.