Geechee Girl Rice Cafe Casts A Long Shadow


Geechee Girl has already turned off the lights. The restaurant’s last official service after a dozen years in Mount Airy was on New Year’s Eve, and while there’s still a party to throw this weekend (the Geechee Gala, a tribute to the lowcountry cuisine that chef and owner Valerie Erwin brought to Philly, which is happening this weekend), that’s going to be the end of the line for Geechee Girl.

What’s surprising, though, is how fast and how far news of the closure has spread.

That snap above? That’s from when Guy Fieri hit the place during one of his Diners, Drive Ins and Dives rambles. He said the greens they served at Geechee Girl were up there among the best he’s ever had. And say what you will about Fieri, but the man has shoveled a lot of greens into his snack-hole.

Regarding the closure, I saw the tweet this morning from food writer, TV guy and Southern foodways expert John T Edge. He was tweeting about an article written by Hanna Raskin (another well-known food writer) for the Post & Courier paper in Charlestown, South Carolina. Raskin had a quote from Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills–a name that ought to be familiar to anyone who knows anything about good food, done in the Southern tradition. He said, “After cooking in Philly’s best kitchens for decades, Valerie Erwin could have opened any style restaurant, in any Philly neighborhood to acclaim and success. But Valerie’s brilliance and sensibilities led to something unique: The courage to establish a cafe that celebrated her Carolina Lowcountry Geechee family heritage.”

High praise from a man who knows his rice and knows his restaurants. According to him, Erwin was his first Philadelphia-area buyer. The first one to bring Anson Mills products to the city.

Anson Mills is helping to organize the final send-off for Geechee Girl. As are Slow Food Philly, the Women’s Culinary Guild and Les Dames d’Escoffier. Heavy hitters all. And if you’re interested in attending the party, tickets are running $100 a head for the tribute dinner on January 10. Doors open at 6:30. There’s gonna be food, beer, music, a raffle, but you’re going to need reservations if you’re interested. Check out the link below for more details. And check the other link for a nice history of Erwin, her family roots in South Carolina, and the importance of bringing lowcountry cooking up north.

Geechee Gala [Official]
Philadelphia’s Esteemed Geechee Girl Rice Cafe To Close [Post & Courier]