Thursday, December 5, 2013

South: This Week's Dining Review

Posted by on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM

In this week's Dining column in the Scene, restaurant critic Carrington Fox takes a trip to South, a restaurant and bar on the Demonbreun strip, launched last year by owners of The Ivy in Atlanta's Buckhead.

"How does South restaurant and bar on Demonbreun represent The South?" Fox asks. Well, she notes, if you stand on the patio, you'll see Nashville's booming downtown and the Gulch, "construction cranes nodding and bowing at every depth of field, lifting more steel and concrete onto the gleaming skyline of the New South." She adds:

Yet step inside South and the view is more retrospective, with murals of dead generals and hoop-skirted Southern belles dominating the pubby decor. There are few establishments outside of Belle Meade Country Club where one can sup under the rueful gaze of the late Robert E. Lee, so the general's floating head sparked an interesting debate at our table. It went something like this: At a time when the South is arguably more dynamic, inclusive and innovative than at any time in history, a time when people are moving here and visiting in record numbers, what does the cartoon antebellum imagery of a restaurant called "South" convey about Southerners? If we brought our Yankee friends to dine on eggs named for Confederate generals, what would they think? Would they think we're all sipping Mason jars of sweet tea and reminiscing about plantation days?

Of course, they might reserve such Reconstruction deconstruction for another venue, since arguably, it's a heavier topic than a cheerful and well-executed menu of pimiento cheese, deviled eggs and Jefferson Davis chicken salad (with pickled grapes and candied pecans) demands. It's enough to make you set down your Jackson burger (on Provence bun with bacon and pimento cheese) and ask how we got into this navel-gazing in the first place. After all, we were just looking for Yazoo on draft, bottomless mimosas and $3 Thursday appetizers, not a history lesson.

Fox has special praise for two particularly Southern specialties at the restaurant: hospitality (in the form of friendly service) and fried food. "Whoever's in charge of the fryer has got the Midas touch," she says.

And now to you, Bites Nation. Let me lob this one your way. Anybody been to South? Bourbon French toast sounds delicious (and noncontroversial). Jefferson Davis chicken salad? Discuss.

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