We heard Atlanta's song and we answered her siren call. We flew up to this Queen of the South for dinner this past weekend. Actually, two dinners and a lunch, but first things first.
We arrived at our hotel in Midtown in enough time to get checked in, refreshed, and medicated in the hotel bar before walking a couple of blocks to our first dinner destination, the South City Kitchen, 1144 Crescent Avenue. We arrived on the dot for our 6:30 reservations. I was turned on to this bastion of innovative Southern cooking by Georgia blogger Rebekah who quoted, "Dining the Way the South Intended." She was so right.
My bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, and I were met at the door by a gracious and charming hostess who guided us to our table in what appeared to have once been someone's stately home. There is indoor and outdoor seating, and an upstairs dining area. The outdoor area was enclosed in sheets of polyurethane to keep out the cold winter winds. This would be an ideal spot to enjoy a fabulous Southern feast - in May or June, or whenever it isn't freezing outside. What can I say, we are a couple of weather wimps from Tampa.
Katy was our server for the evening and she only made our visit that much more enjoyable. Service was prompt, efficient, friendly, and helpful - especially when we couldn't make up our minds. There were so many delights to be had, it was hard not to say, "We want it all!"
To begin our feast we requested a bottle of Au Bon Climat, Pinot Gris, Santa Barbera, CA ’09. This was a well balanced, nicely textured, brightly fruity wine that paired well with everything we ordered. Another "atta girl" for Katy.
Even before departing Tampa I knew that I had to have the Smoked Pork Belly with collard green kimchi, toasted benne seed, orange-Tupelo honey. That belly must have been sent down from porcine heaven, and if your taste buds tingle when confronted with kimchi, you will love this collard green version.
I grow collards in my home garden and I can only hope to be able to replicate the piquancy, tempered by the honey, that I tasted in this recipe.
My bride succumbed to the lure of the wild, the Seared Wild Tennessee Catfish with a Georgia apple slaw, and Mississippi comeback sauce. This was another perfectly prepared dish with a bit of a kick that was toned down to enjoyable levels with the apple slaw.
Moving on to the Skillet, Grill & Sauté section of the menu, we chose our main dishes for this Southern dining adventure. For her, the Braised Meyer Natural Angus Short Rib with celery root potatoes, cipollini, and Brussels sprout slaw. This dish was so tender and tasty it pert near brought tears of joy to our eyes.
I am a fool for aquatic fowl cooked to a medium rare, so that is what I requested, and that is what I got - the Pan Roasted Duck Breast with duck fat-crushed fingerling potatoes, mustard greens, pickled banana peppers, sweet garlic jus. The duck was perfect, and the spiciness of the mustard greens was tamed by the sweet garlic jus.
Like we really needed more food - well, I didn't, but unlike my bride, I don't have a dessert stomach (something I am told all women possess). To round out her evening, the Signature Individual Pecan Pie with buttermilk caramel and vanilla ice cream. From the moans of ecstasy coming from her side of the table I can only assume that gastronomic nirvana was attained.
I can only wish that we had a kitchen like the South City Kitchen in Tampa.
Our bill came to $173.88 and included two bottles of wine. We brought most of the second bottle back to our room for a late night drinkie-pooh. We also tacked on a well deserved 20% for Katy.