You don’t see many restaurants in the Madison area that bill themselves as a “soul food” kitchen, but Anointed One does. In fact, the words are emblazoned on the restaurant’s front awning.
Anointed One opened on the city’s far west side a year ago and specializes in fare commonly associated with Southern soul food: heavily battered, deep-fried chicken, pork and fish, with sides such as corn bread, collard greens, yams and green beans with pork.
There are other options that don’t land in the soul food category (including an Italian beef sandwich and a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, a gyro burger and a deep-fried Polish sausage), but most of what comes from the kitchen is authentic soul food.
It might not be the healthiest fare, but it certainly is tasty and affordable. And you get a lot of food for the money.
Anointed One’s menu is simple, with a handful of appetizers, five dinner choices that come with three sides, six lunch specials (mostly sandwiches) that come with two sides, and about a dozen very good side dishes.
There are also daily specials. The Tuesday special, for example, includes a fried pork chop, “smothered” potatoes and a choice of vegetable, along with two sides for $10.
It’s a bit peculiar that not everything you can order is listed on the menu. I’d heard about the kitchen’s terrific po’ boy sandwiches, but you won’t find them written down. When I asked our server about the sandwiches, she said of course they have them. I didn’t press to find out why they’re not on the menu, but we were pretty pleased with the shrimp po’ boy, which included about eight fried shrimp on a bun with iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato, a pickle and homemade tartar sauce ($10).
It was a challenge to eat unless you had the jaws of a lion (you have to open wide), but it was flavorful nonetheless.
The restaurant opened in a relatively new commercial development close to Middleton, and it seems rather out of place. I’d expect to see this casual eatery on Willy Street or South Park Street or maybe on the city’s north side, but I guess people who work in large office buildings need soul food as much as anyone.
Much of the restaurant’s business is take-out, but customers also can eat in a small dining room with about six tables. Table service is good, and the staff is friendly. The dining room features large windows, big photos of the food and a TV that was tuned to Black Entertainment Television on the night of our visit.
I couldn’t think of eating at Anointed One without trying its signature dish, the fried chicken dinner ($11). You get three pieces of chicken and a choice of whether it’s white meat, dark meat or a mix of the two.
It comes steaming hot and highly seasoned from the kitchen, with a thick batter that is easy to strip off before you reach the moist, tender meat. The chicken is served with a hot sauce but doesn’t need it because there is plenty of flavor without.
For sides, check out the collard greens for a real treat. They come with bits of bacon and taste great. So does the homemade mac and cheese, which features a creamy sauce, tasty macaroni and a top layer of melted sharp cheddar.
Yams, another wonderful side, are so sweet they could qualify as a dessert. And the homemade coleslaw here is second to none—rich and creamy with sauce that’s both sweet and sour, and lots of crunchy cabbage and carrots.
The potato salad is a classic recipe, perhaps a tad creamy for my taste, but definitely fresh and homemade. A side of mashed potatoes stands out for the tiny chunks of potato the dish contains and a rich, slightly sweet gravy.
Above all, be sure to try the homemade corn bread, which comes with most meals. It’s fantastic, and so moist and sweet that it truly does not require a smear of butter to give it some life.
There are several options for dessert. The one I’d recommend for sure is banana pudding, which comes layered with Nilla wafer cookies and topped with a swirl of whipped cream ($3).
Anointed One’s location is out of the way, but I’m sure I’ll be returning to taste its catfish dinner (which I’ve heard is worth the drive and comes with spaghetti and coleslaw) and meatloaf dinner.
If you’re around on a Sunday night, our server said the special that night is particularly popular. It includes rib tips, northern white beans with ham, green beans, potatoes and corn bread—all for $12. I’m pretty sure you’d be taking home leftovers.
Bill Livick is a freelance writer who writes entertainment stories and Madison-area restaurant reviews for The Gazette.