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The Dish: Paula Deen's Kitchen serves up classic southern comfort food at Harrah's Joliet

Paula Deen's Kitchen at Harrah's Joliet Hotel & Casino.

Paula Deen's Kitchen at Harrah's Joliet Hotel & Casino.

On April 5, 2012, Paula Deen brought her southern-style buffet and restaurant to the Chicago area via Harrah's Casino in Joliet.

Even with all the publicity around Paula Deen and her health and style of cooking, it certainly hasn't stopped her in continuing to move forward in her endeavors. And thank goodness!

Paula Deen's Kitchen and Buffet have seemed to have struck gold in partnering with Harrah's Casino as her restaurants are featured in three of their casinos; Harrah's Tunica, MS; Cherokee, NC and the newest in Joliet, as well as at Horseshoe Casino in Southern Indiana.

Not suprisingly, the restaurant entrance lures guests through the Paula Deen's Kitchen retail shop. The shop is nothing short of a Paula Deen shrine with everything from Paula Deen brand cookware, kitchenware and apparel, to signed cookbooks and even Paula Deen Creme Brulee and Buttery Cinnamon Roll scented candles…of course!

The Kitchen's decor is charmingly southern, complete with sea blue shutters, armoirs adorned with roosters and everything you would expect to see at a Paula Deen restaurant.

The buffet is the draw at Paula Deen's Kitchen, where guests can sample a little bit of each of her menu items. The menu serves all the classic southern faire like black-eyed peas, collard greens, cheesy biscuits, green beans and potatoes, mac-n-cheese, fried chicken, prime rib, and hoecakes.

A hoecake is basically a pancake, but made with corn meal. The name itself stirs up giggles and pointers from guests who are not sure what it is and reluctantly asks the chefs behind the counter to explain. It's very Paula Deen to have a huge "Hoecake" sign above and laugh about it!

For some reason, I expected the food to be too salty, too fatty and too much. But instead I found that it was all seasoned well and didn't overwhelm me with fried this and that. Although it's nothing I would say is amazing, this is exactly what one would imagine they'd be eating if over at Paula Deen's Kitchen.

My only regret is that Paula Deen's Kitchen isn't at River's Casino instead of Harrah's Joliet. I know it's a deal her brand has made with Harrah's. But with River's Casino much closer proximity to the city, as well as just a better and more high-end look, feel and location, I feel that even more people would be able to come and experience eating at Paula Deen's Kitchen.



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