Tuesday, March 8, 2016


What can we expect to find at South? Isn't the title pretty self-descriptive? Yes, they serve southern comfort food. Yes, fried green tomatoes and hush puppies are on the menu. And yes, they sure know how to deep-fry stuff. (But no, none of the staff talks with a southern twang.) Deep-frying might be deemed a lowbrow cooking method by some, but still, it requires mastery. I've eaten a few too many soggy, oily, dry, and even burnt deep-fried things in my lifetime. When I come across restaurants that not only steer clear of those mistakes but excel at turning simple ingredients into golden scrumptiousness, I am deeply grateful. South, no doubt, is one of those places.

The fried chicken (Oh, that fried chicken!) is beyond reproach. Tender, lightly battered and exquisitely crispy, it far surpasses its accompanying sides of unexceptional biscuit and kale greens. The shrimp Po'boy is another dish that validates their deep-fry expertise. Plump golden shrimp, fresh shredded cabbage, a good splash of spicy remoulade, all stuffed in a lovely bread roll--it's a gorgeous sandwich to look at and a satisfying one to devour. The Chef's Burger with leek-shallot jam and mustard-sauce slaw is pretty darn messy to eat. But is it worth it? Well, considering the succulent bacon confit, sweetish brioche bun, and that beautiful crust on the burger patty....yeah, it is. Just use lots of napkins or lick your fingers often or put on some gloves, and you'll be fine. The pulled pork and sausage gumbo is a hearty, meaty dish, mightily high in protein but deplorably low in sodium. Everything else is well seasoned, why so stingy on salt with this one? (I shall order it again sometime to find out whether it's a one-time mistake or a serial offense.) Once done with the savory, a slice of pecan pie is a great dessert to grab. Nothing's special about the crust, but the filling is quite divine. If my palate is correct, there is condensed milk in it rather than just basic corn syrup, which renders it doubly decadent.

Food aside, South is also a very welcoming spot. Tucked away in a quieter part of midtown Sacramento, parking here is usually convenient no matter what time of day. The abstract paintings make the decor casual and hip, while the bench seatings with accent pillows add a homey touch. Speaking of accent pillows at a place famous for fried chicken and po-boys, isn't that audacious? It's either that they have so much faith in their greasy-fingered customers or they don't mind adding pillow-case cleaning to their long list of daily tasks. Last time I was there, the pillows were spotlessly clean. And I conscientiously kept them that way throughout my meal. I don't know about the guy at a nearby table with BBQ sauce dripping down to his elbow, though. He seemed utterly oblivious to his own sloppiness and how it might affect his surroundings.

So yes, try South if you're enthused about deep-fried goodies. Have some fried chicken, drink some beer, enjoy some pie, and to be kind, keep your oily fingers off their pillows. 

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