Even the keenest futurists couldn’t have predicted the changes the past year brought. Neither could a Fairfax County Public Schools employee of 26 years named Roxanne David. After her retirement in 2018, David dreamed of reviving her grandfather’s restaurant, Percy’s Soul Food. She opened Granddaddy’s Skillet, with an image of her grandfather Percy Ledbetter as the logo, in November 2020. But a malfunctioning exhaust closed down her fledgling eatery just a few days later, and it remained shuttered until February. That meant that her business opened in earnest in 2021, exactly 100 years after Ledbetter began serving his beloved fried fish in Pittsburgh. “God does things the way he’s going to do it,” says the new restaurateur.
The fish, served either as a sandwich or a platter, can be prepared with whiting, catfish, or croaker. The whiting we tried was plainer than we’d hoped, but smothered pork chops are exactly the sort of manna we were expecting to emerge from the heavy skillet. Confidently seasoned and drenched in just enough creamy gravy, the savory chops are a vibrant foil to maple-flavored yams and fluffy, cakelike cornbread. The sharp, gooey mac and cheese? It goes with everything but requires no accompaniment. Just order it.
The banana pudding, layered with whole disks of the fruit and Nilla wafers, would be exceptional even in a region filled with soul food. But considering how hard the cuisine is to come by in NoVA, it’s best to buy two of the containers—one to eat at the tidy counter-service restaurant and one to take home. Sure, much has changed in the past year, but sometimes it’s the things that remain just as they were a century ago that are the sweetest. 6544 Little River Tpk., Alexandria