Few foods epitomize comfort like the combination of long-simmered chicken and the resulting broth loaded with handmade dough creations, be they matzoh balls, noodles or dumplings. It's the food we use for comfort when we're sick and again when junk food and liquor don't cure our ills.
At Yummies Soul Food Cafe, they've elevated the southern version of this comfort classic to decadence with their chicken and dumplings.
This isn't soup. Real chicken and dumplings never is. Instead, it's a blast of pure chicken flavor that only comes from simmering a whole chicken for a very long time. Don't be alarmed if you find a little bit of chicken bone or gristle in the chicken and dumplings. That just means nothing in the bowl ever did time in a can. What's left is a rich, concentrated flavor that absorbs into every aspect of the dish.
The tender chicken shreds at the touch of a spoon, but the handmade dumplings don't. They manage to be substantial without being tough or doughy. With just the right amount of yield to the tooth and a dash of black pepper blended into the dough, the dumplings lighten the heft of the chicken's richness.
Add the dish's overall warmth with the balance of richness and light, and the resulting effect can make you believe that all is right with the world. At least for a little while.
Beginning last year, RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb counted down -- in no particular order -- 100 of his favorite dishes in St. Louis. Now Gut Check has taken up where he left off. Check back frequently as we detail our 100 favorites, and don't hesitate to send us yours, too, either via the comments thread or at email@example.com.
#92: Cuban Sandwich from La Tropicana #93: The Prosperity at Ruma's Deli #94: Cherry Cheese Danish from Missouri Baking Company #95: Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse #96: Egg Salad Sandwich at Township Grocer #97: Cheeseburger and Fries (Extra Crispy) at O'Connell's Pub #98 Mussels & Fries at Brasserie by Niche #99: Beef Taquitos Mexicanos at El Indio #100: Spinach Artichoke Dip at Cafe Eau