subject: The Southern
take-out vehicle: plastic boxes
The café at The Southern hasn't even been open a week, so I know a critical review wouldn't be fair to give. I mean, they haven't even decorated the walls yet. But today I saw an open door and a person behind the bar, so my curiosity got the better of me.
The brunch/lunch menu was kinda different than what I was expecting. I still don't actually know what I was expecting, but I never thought I'd find black-eyed pea cakes, fried chicken biscuits, or open-faced meatloaf sandwiches there. Not that I'm complaining. Black-eyed peas, fried chicken biscuits, and meatloaf are a wonderful, often underappreciated Southern delights, so I was thrilled to see them get some love at The Southern. I was torn, though, between the meatloaf and the (not quite as) Southern Chicken Salad—oven-fried chicken, bacon, avocado, cucumber, tomato, sliced brie, chopped romaine, and creamy pesto dressing—so I asked the girl behind the bar for her favorite of the two.
I ended up with the salad, and my body no doubt appreciated it. My diet this past week has been rather lacking in fresh vegetables, and this salad provided a good amount. I won't lie, though; given the weather outside, the meatloaf sandwich (served warm with caramelized onions and a mushroom gravy) would have been nice. There's always next time, I guess.
As for my salad, the oven-fried chicken was chunky and tender but not quite as crispy as it could've been. The real texture came from the fresh veggies, and they balanced well with the saltiness of the bacon. The brie was also a nice touch. It was creamy and rich but sliced thinly enough to be manageable with just a fork.
I was confused by the dressing, however. The menu advertised a creamy pesto dressing, but the dressing I got was purple and tasted...not like pesto (buttermilk and blueberries, maybe?). It wasn't bad, and I suspect I was just given the wrong thing by accident, but it still made me kinda regret not getting the meatloaf.
If I could make one suggestion, it would be to serve the salad with a biscuit or some of the "ABC" bread that accompanies some of the appetizer dishes. The chips were fine, but some real bread would have been much more appreciated.
Chips aside, it was definitely a healthy lunch, and all together a pretty satisfying one. I look forward to watching The Southern grow and flesh itself out over the coming weeks, and I'm curious to see if the menu will continue to be refined as well. From what I saw, they're definitely putting a big effort into the café side of The Southern, so I hope it prospers.
If anyone is interested in going in the next few days, the kitchen is fully up and running from 11:00am to 3:00pm, and they do offer a full bar, wine, and a decent selection of bottled beers at all shows, including the entire line of commercially available Starr Hills. Soon a late night menu will be available, so I'm especially interested to experience that scene once (if?) it gets established. Maybe I'll have to don my cVillain reviewer hat and wander over there some evening.
A point of interest: the bar and tables in the café were hand-crafted specifically for The Southern by the 74-year-old father of one of the owners (and they're very handsome).
ps—If anyone has the meatloaf before I get back there, let me know how it is.
* My salad normally would have costed $8.50, but the bartendress thought I was super sexy**...and they didn't have enough lettuce to make a whole salad, so she discounted it for me.
** At least, I assume she did.