Southern Charm in the Midwest
I spend countless hours in my Google reader, mostly reading about food. Awhile back, I was reading the latest blog post from I Like to Eat (go ahead, check it out but make sure to come back and finish reading!). The restaurant under review was The Southern.
The Southern and I have an interesting history. I was presented with the opportunity to go on a trolley bar crawl around the city a few weeks after I moved here in 2010. Now, for those of you who are not familiar, it is popular in Chicago to rent a trolley (imagine San Francisco cable car), drink, and ride around the city.
That particular crawl stopped at a bar briefly which everyone seemed to like, yet no one could remember after the drunken haze set in. Months and months went by until one day we stumbled back into The Southern and realized this was the bar we had been wondering about! Finally, the mystery was solved. I have been back several times but never to try the food. I didn’t even consider eating there until I saw the above mentioned article and that’s when I knew I had to check it out.
To me, The Southern will always be a bar, albeit a cool bar with good atmosphere. The downstairs is dimly lit, the music isn’t too loud, and it is pretty easy to get a bartender’s attention. It’s a great place to grab a drink. The Southern also has a great outdoor space that we couldn’t take advantage of due to the time of year but is definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, we were seated upstairs where it was drafty and it feels like a failed attempt at a lounge. The space just doesn’t hold the ambiance of it’s downstairs counterpart. I was disappointed so no star this time around.
Grab a drink at the bar or at a high-top table near the bar and you’ve set yourself up for a great date. I’ll give up the star because I would take my boo here but I’d just be careful about where I’m sitting.
2012, the year of the wine lives on. I had the Durigutti Red and it was exactly what I needed to melt away the week on a Friday night. The wine selections are limited but I was pleased by the pick. Ninja star awarded.
Everything we ordered was plated with care and looked hearty and comforting. Good thing, since The Southern hails on being a kickass bar + comfort food. Ninja star awarded.
I am a sucker for corn bread. It just screams comfort food so when I saw that I could order a side to share, I about jumped at the chance. I’m pretty sure I like it so much because it essentially tastes like a dessert….but it’s bread. The sweet tooth never rests!
The cornbread was served with a side of butter and HONEY. I was surprised that a side to share consisted of only two pieces. Luckily, one of my dining companions doesn’t care for the delicious stuff so I was content with the portion size. The bread was moist and had a good texture, not too grainy or crumby.
The decision for the main event was difficult but I eventually went with the Smoked Bacon which consists of cured and smoked Berkshire pork belly, creamed collard greens, and then is topped with a fried egg. The entire concoction is laid on a piece of bread.
The pork belly was crisp, flavorful, and you could taste the smoke in the meat. A bite of all the components together transformed me back to breakfast time. It seemed as if I should be drinking coffee rather than wine with my meal. The dish is rich, hearty, and would make for a great breakfast after a long and semi-hazy night out on the town (trolley bar crawl perhaps).
Ninja star awarded but I sure hope this dish is on their brunch menu!
The meal was very Southern, and sat heavy in my stomach so there was no room for dessert on this trip. Ninja star is not applicable at this time.
The Southern checks in at 6/9 ninja stars. I’ll be back, but only in the Winter when I’m craving a warm meal to fill me up.