Now we can begin.
One of the benefits of this whole Eat Local blog business is that every now and then my friends invite me to cool food events, knowing what a good eater I am. That’s what went down recently when I was invited by good friends to join them at one of Southward’s friends and family nights. The kitchen and the front of house served up their menu to a packed house to get a little more practice before the official opening, which I believe was today.
We nearly tried everything on the menu, so this little photo journey should give you a pretty good idea of the awesomeness that awaits your upcoming trip to the Regalia shopping center out East by Oak Hall. Tucked in the back in the old Circa location, Southward has gotten a full makeover and sports a cozy bar that gives way to a high-ceiling dining room with excellent design that features a great community table. There’s also an upstairs room that will be great for business meetings and small parties. Anyway, on to the Fare and the Libations.
Libate Liberally or Be Mocked
For whatever reason, I don’t seem to ever get good photos of beverages, so just trust me when I say that they looked good, felt good. High marks for the mocktails listed on the menu, which makes the non-drinker feel just as cool as the rest. I can not tell you how lame it is when I order a club soda with lime as my friends decide from one of 18 gin drinks. This mocktail business is important. My Second Thoughts was a fresh lemon, pineapple, ginger, and pomegranate mixture, and I was totally pleased with it. The more potent drinks included the highly-praised Dragon and the Prickley Pear Rickey.
Fare the Well
My recommendation when you first get to Southward is to get a beverage and order some raw oysters. We got a mixed dozen, comprised of four different varieties – Malagash, Apalachicola, Canada Cup, and Raspberry Point – and while I can’t remember exactly which was which, there were some real winners. The smallest oyster I had was also the best, as it was super-flavorful.
I am a simple guy when it comes to eating oysters, just a little lemon and eat the thing right out of the shell. The bed of salt gives a punch to anyone that eats from the shell. The oysters also came with a couple of sauces that got some good reviews in case that’s how you roll. These are an excellent pre-starter starter.
Moving into real starter territory we ordered up the mussels. This wasn’t your garden variety mussels and broth only business, rather, this was the business.
Steamed mussels with chorizo, grape tomatoes, mustard greens, sweet peppers and grilled bread. With a salad, this could be the key element of a small meal. Definitely a keeper.
At this subsection of the game, it behooves me to mention that Southward is a Project Green Fork certified restaurant, which is a pretty big deal to me. At this point of the dinner, we all went with something green. I knocked my order out of the park with the caramelized pear salad, which was unreal.
A thin hard, sugary shell surrounded an extremely sweet and juicy pear. All that sweetness was tempered perfectly by the bed of peppery arugula, the citrus vinaigrette, the pungent blue cheese, the pistachios and the prunes. This is a pretty decadent salad, but it was decidedly awesome. Excellent flavor and texture mixing here.
The wedge looked awesome and had some flair to go with this classic. Benton’s smoked ham, almonds, and fried peppers make this one a little different from the rest.
Lastly, the ladies made a very dignified choice to get the chilled cucumber soup.
I’m all for cold soups in the summer, but this was a revelation. This was as light as you can get, and with the dill creme fraiche and the smoked salmon, it was a great blend of flavors to go with the cool cucumber. It would not surprise me to see people drinking this from the bowl at the end. K says “it is the perfect soup for the summer”
It is pretty obvious that Ryan Trimm and company will turn up with some awesome dishes from the sea. It is what they do. Since I’m always on the hunt for secret information, I took the recommendation that I got from a friend’s girlfriend’s brother’s math tutor’s financial advisor’s younger brother’s dogsitter (you know how it goes, I can’t give up my sources). I got the salmon, and it was slammin.
Here it is in its pistachio-covered goodness. Nice, moist, fatty salmon on top of a bed of creamed corn that I’ve been talking about ever since dinner. Is it bizarre that between the four of us, we had almost the entire menu, and I’m still harping about the creamed corn? Let’s say the corn is symbolic for the attention to detail, and that from the cheapest, most seemingly ordinary ingredients a truly skilled kitchen can rock your world. I can’t tell you why it was so good, but I can tell you that it was. The salmon was awesome too. I’m normally hesitant to order salmon, as it is one of the items that I imagine I can cook well, so I like to get things that I’d be terrified to cook. Well, as I was cleaning up the last of the corn with a piece of fried okra, I realized that my imagination doesn’t cook that often, so I should order more salmon.
Elsewhere at the table…K ordered up a fine piece of halibut.
It came on field pea cakes with asparagus, and a fresh salsa. It was good one. I’ll admit that I was in a salmon-daze, so I’m not as accurate on the other dishes that I tasted.
Good things from the sea and good things from land. Southward has some impressive land offerings, and I was definitely glad that our table got a couple of these, so that I could sample them. A serious Berkshire pork chop was on deck.
This bad boy came with roasted potatoes, charred mustard greens, and a cherry romesco. A good Berkshire chop is as fine as any beef, so you know that this was awesome.
Are you kidding? Shrimp risotto and field pies? A cucumber chimichuri? All of this with a perfectly cooked, fine piece of meat? Good luck choosing one main course when you go. That’s all I’ll say on that.
When a table has basically crushed an entire menu, your choices at the end are one of:
- “No thanks, I’m stuffed, I’ll just take the check.”
- “I’m drinking my dessert. Make it a double.”
- “Let’s just split one dessert for the table, honey”
- “I’m all-in. We’ll split them all.”
As my man Bluto says, “nothing is over until we decide it is!”
That meant we combined #2 and #4 and topped off the drinks while splitting all of the desserts.
A nice pineapple upside down cake with maraschino cherry bourbon and caramel. Rich. Starting off right.
Key lime pie with a raspberry coulis. Nice, lovely, tart. Moving on up.
A Heath bar trifle. You are joking, right? This was lethal, in a good way. But there was still one more to go…
The killer. Can there be a king of banana splits? If so, get this sucker a crown and a scepter. Let’s talk about the ice creams on this guy. Chocolate covered pretzel, Strawberry, and Nutella ice creams from Sweet Magnolia. Unbelievable. Add some banana, some pecans, luxardo cherries, and a smooth whipped cream, and you are in for a real treat. I don’t always directly say what to order, but just order this.
“Nothing is over until we decide it is.”
It is over.
Until next time. See you there.
You want to go to there:
6150 Poplar Ste 122
Memphis, TN 38119