Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Soul Food and Comic Books - Lorenzo's

I've been meaning to eat at Blocker's Soul Food for months now. A few weeks ago I tried to visit the Winchester location on a Wednesday; a day that it is only open for dinner. On Tuesday I tried to stop by the Raleigh location only to discover that it had closed down and been replaced with a place called Lorenzo's Soul Food. Regardless of the name on the building, it was still a soul food restaurant and that is what I came to eat so I headed inside.

Lorenzo's is open seven days a week, but only for lunch. Like most soul food places, the selections change on a daily basis. After reading over my options on the board, I ordered a pork chop with turnip greens and yams from the friendly smiling ladies behind the order counter. I still haven't been able to catch a soul food place on a day that chitterlings were on the menu, but Lorenzo's did continue my perfect streak of seeing macaroni and cheese listed as a "vegetable" at every single soul food restaurant in the city.

The pork chops had a deliciously light and flaky batter on them and were still relatively juicy despite being cooked in the traditional southern well-done manner. Commercial pork  has suffered heavily from the breeding of leaner and leaner pigs in order to promote pork as "the other white meat." Meanwhile, I've spoiled myself at home with heritage pork chops from Newman Farms that I usually just sear on each side then broil for a few minutes. But this was still a tasty chop, and the $5 price tag for the entire meal is hard to beat. The turnip greens and yams were also solidly good. Despite the breading on the chop and eating half the corn muffin, my blood sugar an hour after the meal was only 107. Pork fat and greens are a powerfully healthy combination.

I'd been aware of the old Blocker's Soul Food restaurant in the same location for months, since it occupied the same shopping center as a regular stop for me. I've been a loyal customer of the Comic Cellar for years. In fact, if you count its previous incarnation as a store called Triple Play, I've been a customer for most of my life. The Comic Cellar's owner, Jason Prince, used to manage the old Triple Play store before buying it himself and rebranding it as the Comic Cellar, since the Triple Play name was based around sports cards that he hasn't carried in years since the bottom fell out of that market. The only cards he carries these days are for games like Magic: the Gathering, which I don't play but he regularly hosts tournament-style playing sessions for in the shop.

I was buying traditional superhero comics from Triple Play back in elementary school. And while I still enjoy superhero yarns by outstanding authors like Mark MillarGrant Morrison and Walking Dead author Robert Kirkman; these days my tastes generally run towards more adult-world-oriented works by writers like Garth Ennis, Mike Carey and Neil Gaiman.

Any time I enter the comic shop during a Magic tournament I inevitably hear this song in the back of my mind.

If you're a fan of the Walking Dead TV show, stop by the Comic Cellar and check out the creator-owned comic series, which has been going on since 2003. There are some big difference in who lives and dies, and when characters are killed off, between the TV series and the comic, so there are plenty of surprises in store even if you follow both.

However, if watching the painfully-clumsy Comic Book Men series that comes on after the Walking Dead is making you want to take in your old X-Force comics from the 1990s to see what they are worth, don't bother. When I stopped by the shop after my lunch at Lornezo's, Jason was explaining to yet another frustrated would-be seller that he doesn't have the time to appraise comic collections, since sorting and selling them is so labor-intensive and they are generally worth far less than people are hoping. So here is some free advice if you stumbled across this page Googling something like "where to sell comic books in Memphis": take the time to do it yourself on or give them away to someone who will enjoy them for the stories and art themselves like the kids at St. Jude. You aren't going to drop them off anywhere and walk off with a nice check.

The current Comic Cellar location is just north of the now-empty Raleigh parking lot where the original store sat in a shopping center anchored by a Service Merchandise.

The original location faced the once-booming, now-blighted Raleigh Springs Mall that I discussed in a post on Raleigh Bar-B-Que. As I pointed out in a post on the abandoned Lakeland Mall, the reasons some malls decline aren't as simple as certain reactionary people like to claim.

And on a final, unrelated note: The shopping center the Comic Cellar originally occupied was next to this still-creepy building. It is a Hispanic church now, but at one time it was home to the infamous Love In Action ministry, which offered in-patient counseling based on a particularly toxic interpretation of Christian mythology to attempt to badger and brainwash homosexuals into hiding in the closet from themselves. I thought the group was finally discredited and gone, but Googling them for this post lead me to an official website that makes it look like they are still promoting self-loathing-based mental illness from a new location in Bartlett.

Lorenzo's Soul Food on Urbanspoon


  1. If you're looking for a place that has chitterlings on the menu, check out Best Kept Secret, a soul food joint that I recently reviewed. Although I will never have an opinion about it because "chitlins" are unbearable to me, the food that I had there was good. The same might be true about the rest of its menu.

  2. I had lunch there today and really enjoyed it. Very affordable too. I'll have a review up soon.