Once you step inside, the cavernous dining hall confirms the rumors: this is no mom-and-pop-caterer turned soul food restaurant. A smiling greater welcomes and seats you at a roomy table, most of which have enough space for four, as the aroma of the Southern-style food begins to tease you.
“It’s very delicious; we come here all of the time,” said Tremayne Horne about His Place Eatery, located at 3709 N. Shadeland Ave., across the street from the Sparkling Image Car Wash. “It’s the best soul food restaurant in town. Especially the chicken and waffles, and mac and cheese.”
Although His Place promotes its specialty dishes such as chicken and waffles and ribs, owner James Jones wants people to savor the atmosphere when they visit his and his wife’s, Shawn Marie Jones , restaurant. “The idea of the place is to take traditional soul food and put a chef’s hat on it,” said James Jones. He ought to know something about that. Jones ran a catering operation on the side for more than 13 years while he worked in radio sales.
The Joneses opened His Place just on weekends about a year ago, and then went to a four-day schedule a few months later. Customers can find all of the traditional soul food on the menu, including pork chops, fried chicken, fish, collard greens, mash potatoes and candied yams. But they will also discover food there that James Jones has perfected over his cooking career, such as bourbon cream corn, smoked rib tips, hickory-smoked ribs, and for dessert, sweet potato cheese cake.
“What I would like people to see us as is a modern soul food restaurant,” said Jones. “We take a lot of care with how the plates are presented. We test foods before we put them on the menu. We spend a lot of time focusing on customer service. Nobody should have go out and spend their time and money and feel that they’ve had a bad experience.”
Smoked meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, turkey Manhattan, and garlic rosemary roasted chicken (available on Sunday only) are among the new menu items that His Place is offering.
While I had the inclination to taste some of the restaurant’s spaghetti, I settled on a plate with some of my favorites: fried perch, yams and – especially with Thanksgiving still fresh in my memory – dressing, along with corn bread. The portions were generous and not overly seasoned.
The waitress checked back with me to make sure that I had enough lemonade to drink but was not so intrusive that I couldn’t enjoy the meal. In case I have not said it was delicious, it was delicious. And too much for me to consider having dessert.
“People will go where it’s convenient to eat, but they will travel for an experience,” said Jones. “We try to give them a dining experience.” Prices for entrees are in the $9-$10 range. His Place is open Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. The restaurant, however, will be closed for the holidays Dec. 24 until Jan. 4.