In appearance and texture, the filling and crust of this lemonade pie ($3.50) are very familiar. The taste is less puckeringly tart than key lime, however, without being overly sweet, and once you start in on a slice, there's little chance you'll put down your fork.
With the passing of chef-owner Margie McCray in November 2009, her namesake diner shut its doors. At the time, her daughter Ayoka Bell told me that she wasn't yet sure about the future of the business. But bearing in mind the histories of M&G Diner, which closed in June 2008, and Louise's Family Restaurant, which didn't long survive a New York Times article from August of that year, I resigned myself to the loss of one more soul food restaurant.
Wonderful, then, that Ayoka and her husband, Michael, have reopened their diner amid several fits and starts. Makeovers have added polish indoors and out but left the menu largely in place. Shown below: a fried porkchop platter ($11.50), baked chicken ($10), and, from 2007, the celebrated fried chicken ($10), whose crunchy-crisp casing sealed in the juices very well, for the dark meat particularly. (Sometimes it's good to be thin-skinned.)
Biscuits are still absent. Margie's were a treasure, but she made them by feel rather than from any recipe, and restoring them to the menu will be a challenge. Peach cobbler, too, has not made its return, but several dense forkfuls into a slice of sweet potato pie ($2), you'll hardly miss it.
Margie's Red Rose Diner
275 West 144th St. (Frederick Douglass-Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvds.)