**Please note South has now closed**
Please allow me to do a bit of housekeeping. Not Quite Nigella has been nominated in two categories for Well Fed Network’s awards! Thankyou so much for the wonderful people that nominated me And if you would like to vote you can do so on:
Lots of love and happiness,
Lorraine aka NQN
And now onto the story…
I’ve always wanted to visit the South in America. There’s something about the lilting accents, the heat, the fabulous array of delicious and richly historical food imbued with legend that sparks my interest. I also do a mean Southern accent on occasion but so far I’ve only visited via restaurant or via the ingestion of cake. My friend Teena sent me the link to South on eatability knowing that we all love Southern food, particularly my friend Gina, whose birthday we were celebrating. I was a little suspicious given the rave reviews with particular mention for Leo, the owner, from people who had only written one review but hey it’s in a neighbouring suburb so I was willing to give it a try and aid in Gina’s quest for Chicken Wings and Pumpkin Pie from back home.
Bread and melted butter
On busy Military Road, South is a small restaurant with red and white checkered tablecloths, a (faux) possum sitting on top of the inside awning, a dessert case full of home made desserts and a bright, eyecatching mural. We are seated and the owner Leo comes over and introduces himself. Ah ok, this is why everyone mentions him by name. It’s also slated to be featured in next week’s episode of Food Safari on SBS.
We order Lemonades (very sweet and not fizzy but quite refreshing nevertheless). The menu is a mix of all things Southern, Cajun and Creole and features items such as crab cakes, BBQ Ribs, okra, Gumbo, catfish, Crawfish Etouffe, country fried steak, Jambalaya and of course the desserts (my favourite part of Southern cuisine-I am after all the person that had a Red Velvet Wedding cake).
Photos of our Red Velvet Wedding cake (photography by ViL Photography)
Hot Wings $16
Now as I mentioned, the reason why we’ve chosen this place is for Gina, as she’s Canadian and many a time she would cross the border in search of good chicken wings and pumpkin pie. Having tried chicken wings everywhere, she is always trying to find ones like back home (well technically back home and a bit south) so she and her fellow chicken wing loving husband Hot Dog hone in on these. She notes that they’re a bit pricier than your average wings so there’s a lot riding on them and we all wait to see their reaction. Hot Dog is too busy eating but gives it a big thumbs up as does Gina. The wings are spicy, with a vinegary tang and are juicy and delicious and served with celery sticks and a blue cheese sauce.
Crab Cakes $31
Our mains arrive and I try my Crab Cakes. I ordered these as I love Crab and I recall that Gordon Ramsay on Kitchen Nightmares always orders crab cakes if they’re on the menu. About 8cms in diameter, there are two crab cakes per main serve. The cakes themselves are full of crab meat and quite soft, indeed transporting some to Teena’s plate proves difficult as it breaks apart as the breadcrumb coating is light so it doesn’t form a protective hard layer but it also means that it isn’t greasy. The salad that accompanies it and the blackened corn are great, especially with the tartare sauce (home made we find out as I adore it).
Pulled Pork Sandwich $16
I try the Pulled pork sandwich as I like Pulled Pork last having it at Flying Fajita Sistas and this is interesting. We’re a little dismayed that it comes in a Hamburger bun (we were envisaging a nice toasted bread instead) so we leave that behind (although a comment from reader Amanda and a search revealed that that is how it is meant to be served). The Pulled Pork inside is soft and flavoursome, especially when paired with the spicy BBQ sauce.
BBQ Ribs $39 (served with a bowl of coleslaw)
We try some of Gina and Hot Dog’s serve of ribs and they’re fall apart good. Smothered in rib sauce you don’t need any cutlery to ease the ribs apart from each other, just the sheer will and desire to satiate your hunger and feed your waiting tastebuds. I beg my husband to share a half order with me but he declines. Leo stops by and Hot Dog lavishes praise on him and he seems pleased and he tells us that the secret is slow cooking and that it takes half a day to cook the ribs.
One more look at the ribs
Smothered chicken $26
My husband’s Smothered chicken comes topped with bacon, onion and cheese. He hungrily devours it and whilst I think it isn’t bad, it’s not something I would have ordered.
Shrimp Creole $29
The Shrimp Creole is a tasty dish filled with huge prawns and a tomato based sauce. it is very good although I hate to sound like a broken record but the ribs have ruined me for the rest of the dishes. And no, my husband says again, he won’t share a half serve with me! Heartless bugger!
Hot Dog $9
Philippe enjoys his Hot Dog although as he has a strict “no sharing” policy we don’t ask him to try any
During the evening Leo stops by several times to check how we’re doing. He’s interested in any feedback we have and seems sincere that everyone enjoys their food. It’s a kind of natural hospitality which when done well seems natural and gracious and hospitable (but when done badly seems insincere or smarmy). We see that the desserts are fast disappearing from the dessert display so we quickly reserve a slice of the Pumpkin Pie, Carrot Cake and the Banana Pudding.
Banana Pudding $10
I ordered the Banana Pudding because I remember Oprah talking about staying at Maya Angelou’s house and that she loved her Banana Pudding so much that she would sneak down and eat it during the night. I was curious as Southern Style Banana Pudding isn’t a dish that you see here much at all (if ever) and this is my first time trying this dessert. I dip my spoon in and am rewarded with sweet heaven. I thought that I loved Bannoffee but I think I love Banana Pudding even more. It’s layered at the bottom with cookies and then pieces of banana and then a thick creamy pudding reminiscent of a banana ganache. I usually take a spoonful of desserts and pass them on but tonight I’m unashamedly greedy. I offer people a share with a “Do you want any? No? Cool” and then do a quick imitation of Phillippe and finish this myself.
Pumpkin Pie $11
Gina’s No 1 dessert is Pumpkin Pie and it’s one of those things I don’t ever make for her as she likes it just so but doesn’t often find it to her taste but tonight we’re hitting two for two with the Pumpkin Pie getting a big thumbs up from her. It’s heady in spices and a generous slice too and not too wet which is her main objection to Pumpkin Pie.
Carrot Cake $14
The carrot cake, one that Leo says is made by his wife is a lovely tall slice (cut into prior to photographing by the very eager Phillippe) with a generous topping of cream cheese icing (my favourite icing in the world).
I’m stuffed to the gills but as I leave, all I can think about is ducking back for a half serve of ribs. Is that wrong?
222 Military Road (corner Waters Road), Neutral Bay, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9908 5225
Lunch: Saturday 12noont-4pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6pm-10pm
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