We loved the restaurant but now it's closed.

Cincinnati Bites
Bibimbap from The Korea House

Posted Sunday, October 24, 2010
Note: the following review is for a restaurant that has since closed.

Aunt Flora's House of Soul is a soul food restaurant now open next to Silverton Cafe, occupying the space formerly known as Szechwan Wok. Katrina "Aunt Flora" Mincy is a bit of a celebrity, having had her cobblers featured on Martha Stewart's TV show. Mincy and members of her family have explored several area restaurant ventures, including the much-missed Flo's Plate Full of Soul.

I am fascinated by soul food. For me, it conjures pleasant memories of many summers spent deep in South Carolina's lowcountry. The very juxtaposition of the two words evokes visions of hearty meals made from "throwaway" ingredients centered mostly around pig offal. As a matter of course, I generally steer clear of such things, but fortunately there are so many items falling under the "soul food" category offering plenty for even the pickiest eaters. Mac & cheese, collard greens, fried okra, black-eyed peas, candied yams, red beans and rice, catfish, fried chicken, BBQ and much more abound.

We stepped inside Aunt Flora's on a recent Friday evening. An older gentleman I presumed to be Mrs. Mincy's husband greeted us, standing near what seemed like a five-foot-tall chalkboard filled with a dizzying array of daily specials. He walked us through the board, deftly abbreviating its contents in a way we could easily understand. Many of the specials like the BBQ ribs had been sold out, and Aunt Flora's cobblers were unavailable because she was "out of town," implying that no one else could be trusted to make them.

Our host seated us in a raised section of the restaurant, overlooking the rows of booths and tables below. A nearby boom box loudly blared cheesy Warm 98 songs and commercials. The ambiance, such as it was, seemed disjointed. The place was previously a Chinese restaurant and, as far as we could tell, little had been changed or upgraded in terms of furniture and decor. It was as if Szechwan Wok had asked Aunt Flora's to house sit for a while, with the full intent of returning.

The menus were as difficult to decipher as the rambling chalkboard. Many sections seemed out of order and seemingly conflicting. There was a "lunch and dinner" section followed by a cobbler section, followed by an "After Church" dinner section followed by another dinner special section; something called "Chicken on the Run"; and another area of the menu called "family daily meals."

Whiting, catfish and chicken wings were the only proteins available the night of our visit. I ordered the Whiting special, two cornmeal-breaded fish fillets with a side of collard greens mixed with cabbage, a side of mac & cheese and a thick, Texas-style toast. Not being a seafood fan, my girlfriend's only choice was the chicken wing dinner, eight lightly-seasoned wings with the collard green/cabbage mix, mac & cheese and toast.

To drink, I chose their sweet tea, another Southern favorite of mine. When it arrived, I enthusiastically inhaled a large swig, only to nearly choke on it in surprise. My girlfriend, who is adamantly not a tea drinker, was particularly indignant when I coerced her into trying it.

"If I take a sip, the horrible taste of tea will just linger throughout the rest of my meal," she protested. I assured her that would not be the case. When she tentatively took a sip, her eyes widened and she burst out laughing. "It tastes like fruit punch!" she guffawed. And it did.

Still marveling at the bizarre, syrupy sweet non-tea, we were presented with our entrees.

Whiting w/collard greens and mac & cheese
Chicken wings w/collard greens and mac & cheese

The whiting fish was excellent, one of the better fried fishes I've had. The fillets were tender, not at all greasy. A wonderful blend of spices in the corn meal batter ensured my fork would not leave my hand until both the fillets were gone.

The mac & cheese was very good, creamy, with a few crunchy burnt parts from the pan that signaled home-cookin'. The greens & cabbage combo was also very flavorful...neither meaty nor spicy like many collard greens I've had, but with a hearty flavor and only the most minute hint of bitterness.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend enjoyed her meal far less than I had. Her wings required liberal doses of salt and pepper; she didn't like the side of Texas toast that came with the entree. I, however, liked the toast, whose texture and butteriness was akin to a thick grilled cheese sandwich, minus the cheese.

Strawberry shortcake and chocolate chip cookie

Denied the cobbler, we instead ordered the strawberry shortcake and a homemade chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The whipped cream on the shortcake had been topped with texturally jarring candied sprinkles; and the lemony-ness of the lemon pound cake, which served as the "shortcake," overpowered the strawberries. The chocolate chip cookie was good --not too crunchy, not too soft, with liberal doses of chocolate chips.

Aunt Flora's House of Soul has definitely got its heart in the right place. We enjoyed much of the food, but there were clear missteps we hope get ironed out as they get situated at their new location.

Aunt Flora's House of Soul on Urbanspoon
Aunt Flora\'s House of Soul

Price: Moderately Expensive ($11 - $16 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 2.5 out of 42.5 stars

Other Recent Reviews

  1. There's a New Taqueria in Town: Chilango Fresh Mexican
    -posted Sunday, March 19, 2017
  2. Food Truck Sprouts Roots: Urban Grill on Main
    -posted Monday, March 6, 2017
  3. Northside Burger Impressions: Tickle Pickle
    -posted Sunday, February 26, 2017
  4. Reflections of a Thin Crust: A Tavola Madeira
    -posted Sunday, January 22, 2017
  5. Kitschy Country Breakfast at Apple Tree Cafe
    -posted Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
  • From Tabitha about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
  • From holly may about Urban Grill on Main:
    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
  • From Sommer about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo:
    But...do they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Swad Indian:
    @MJ: I heard family members of those who'd run Dusmesh now work out of the former Amol India in Clifton. It's called, Grill of India (http://grillofindiaoh.com/).
    posted: Thu., Dec 29th, 2016 @ 11:45 PM
  • From mj about Swad Indian:
    It seems Swad has changed hands. Have not see the former Dusmesh owners in my last visit (10/1/2016) and the food is just ok. Wonder where they went this time?
    posted: Wed., Dec 28th, 2016 @ 8:22 AM
  • From Rachel about Bamboo Kitchen:
    Hey there,
    I would recommend Basil Thai and Bangkok Terrace. They have wonderful Thai foods there :)
    posted: Sat., Nov 19th, 2016 @ 11:28 AM
  • From Tabitha about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    Looks good - I definitely have been wanting to try this place!
    posted: Wed., Nov 9th, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
  • From Georgia about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    So you order and pay at the counter before you get your food and they expect you to tip? That's not right.
    posted: Tue., Oct 25th, 2016 @ 10:19 AM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design