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One Friday last July, a newly laid-off Kunstance [KAHN-stance] Dawson was driving past Alice’s Food Court and decided to stop by and check out the “for rent” sign on one of their food trucks. Once she spoke with the owner and collected all of the facts, she talked to her family and made the decision that she would open the food truck now known as Three Chicks Soul Food. Now how can someone just decide to open a food truck after one weekend of consideration? When everything happens seamlessly and your background is as a wedding consultant, caterer and manager you can.
Everyone needs a sidekick and Chef Dawson’s best friend Cherril is hers. When she decided to open Three Chicks Soul Food, Cherril quit her job and came to work for Three Chicks full-time. Now that’s soulful connection!
Three Chicks Soul Food is all about fresh ingredients and home cooking. In fact, their slogan is Home Cooking Made for the Soul. And it is… For those of you that remember Dot’s Place on Howard; the word on the street is that she’s the new Dot. And that says a lot about Chef Dawson and her food!
Welcome to the feast…
Let me preface this with the fact that I love pork ribs! I love them slow smoked, grilled, barbequed, baked, braised, stove-top, and with or without sauce. But I have never had fried ribs. So Chef Dawson decided that I needed to try hers. And boy was the magical taste worth my wait! She breads and fries the ribs to perfection and serves them with a homemade spicy, sweet barbeque sauce. In one word, DELICIOUS!
I worked at Schlitterbahn during one of my summers in college. There was a great hole-in-the-wall place in New Braunfels where I could find freshly fried gizzards. What, you may ask, do gizzards taste like? They are a chewier version of dark meat chicken. And while the ones in New Braunfels were really good, hers are amazing! From the breading to the Tabasco and hot sauce blend, these gizzards are to die for!
Our first entrée was Fried Catfish with Yams and Fried Okra. So many times, cornmeal breading is under-seasoned and you can tell with your first bite of fish. However, Three Chicks’ catfish breading was perfection! The catfish was light, flaky and scrumptious! While I am usually indifferent about the flavor of okra, her version is fluffy and flavorful. Okra has a slightly sweet, but distinctive vegetable flavor, so it complements the catfish and yams. It’s like eating light, little vegetable pillows. And the yams, oh boy the yams were a treat! Freshly cut and cooked onsite with some butter, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. How could it get any better?
I’ve had a lot of smothered pork chops throughout the years, but nothing prepared me for Three Chicks Soul Food’s Smothered Pork Chops with Macaroni and Cheese and Cabbage. The pork chop is perfectly seasoned, battered and deep fried. Next the fried pork chop is smothered with a brown onion gravy and set to simmer for forty-five minutes. It is then served over a bed of rice. The cabbage is sautéed with bacon—and we all know that everything is better with bacon! What could be a better Southern compliment to the pork chop than homemade macaroni and cheese? Chef Dawson makes her macaroni with a three cheese blend of cheddar, colby and Velveeta and a nice little kick of cayenne pepper.
And finally, she served up her Caramel Apple Crumb Pie. The pie is made with freshly peeled and sliced apples in a mini pie shell with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. It is then generously covered with her crumb mixture of flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. And then to top it off, the pie is lightly drizzled with Chef Dawson’s freshly made caramel sauce, which is almost sinful!
Uh oh, I think she just dropped the mic!
So with all of the delightful dishes we tried, what was our favorite? The Smothered Pork Chop with Macaroni and Cheese and sautéed Cabbage. The Smothered Pork Chops are served as a Special every Wednesday. When you taste them, you’ll understand that this dish is pure LOVE on a plate!
Can’t make it to Howard Lane? Well you’re still in luck! Chef Dawson recently purchased a Three Chicks Soul Food truck for mobile lunches and catering. In addition, Alice’s Food Court and its trucks will be sponsoring a Happy Hour from 5:00 to 9:00 pm on Fridays. They will feature local bands and daily specials including a discount during those hours. Also, Friday’s at Three Chicks Soul Food are called “Fryday”. That means that all of their Friday specials are fried. And we all know how much better everything tastes when it’s fried!
Three Chicks Soul Food is located at 1716 West Howard Lane, Austin, Texas 78727. They welcome to go orders, mobile business and catering jobs.
PHOTOGRAPHY: DESIREE DUNNING