Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: Southern Culture Kitchen & Bar

Southern Culture is a somewhat new restaurant in the Cherrydale area of Greenville. They took the place of one of the worst Italian restaurants I've ever been to in my life, so I am not upset about this at all (Dawn loved it, I hated it ... we see who's opinion was correct since they're out of business now). We've had numerous friends try Southern Culture out and recommend it to us, so for our last date night as a nonmarried couple, I "surprised" Dawn by taking her out there for dinner before we went to see Iron Man 3.

It's a really cool/neat little place with a rustic, backwoods feel to the environment. They don't clutter the walls with decorations, but what they do have is a few older photos and farm/country tools around. If you're able to get there at just the right time, they also have a few seats over by the fire place in the bar area to sit at to wait for your table. From what we hear, there's always a wait, so the chances are pretty good that you'll be waiting but slim that you'll actually get those nice seats. 

We didn't stay long enough to sample the music, but starting at 9p.m. on the weekends they have live music  that covers from acoustic to bluegrass and then over to jazz. The bands play on a large custom built stage to one side of the restaurant that's built from reclaimed wood. 

If this is your first time reading my blog, welcome and thank you, if it's not, then you know Dawn LOVES her some Shrimp and Grits. She acted like she was going to switch it up and go with something different, but I'm turning her into a food critic too, so she said she had to try them to compare. 

Yep, I'm that guy that now goes to a restaurant and takes a picture of his food. NO, I didn't have the flash on or anything to make the whole place turn around and give me weird lookds ... I'm not THAT guy. 

Dawn took a bite, and was hooked. She said it's not #1 on her Greatest Shrimp & Grits of All Time list, but it was definitely near the top. She kept offering me a bite, and normally I'll give it a try, but I had my ribs, and mac & cheese, and fries, so I was trying to eat what I could ... it cost enough, I wanted my moneys worth.

Now, to the ribs. I can't call them BBQ, because I think they use liquid smoke ... I'M NOT GOING ON RECORD WITH THAT, so don't hold me to it, the smokey flavor was just a little .. different. To their defense, they call them BBQ Ribs, so I can't be too upset with them. 

Let me start by saying, I can't stand "fancy" BBQ. It's just a pet peeve of mine, and no it doesn't affect the food so it really doesn't matter, but I can't STAND "fancy" BBQ. I don't need garnish on my plate of ribs. There's no place for garnish in BBQ. Back to being THAT guy, sorry waiting staff, but I am THAT guy that takes his garnish and throws it on the table. I try really hard to be as good of a patron as I can, but unfortuantely, the redneck comes out when certain buttons are pushed a little and ... that's one of them, I'm sorry.

To me, one of the most important parts of restaurant "BBQ", almost as important as the Q itself, is the sides. You have to have great mac'n'cheese, fries, and green beans or it just doesn't work (some may say cole slaw and other stuff, but I don't touch any of that sooooooo yeah). Their Cajun Mac'n'Cheese and fries were AWESOME. The Mac is one of the best restaurant mac I've had ... and I've had a LOT. 

When our friends would recommend Southern Culture to use it was always "Brandon, you HAVE TO try the ribs. They're awesome.", so of course, I had to try the ribs. TO ME, the ribs were way over done. I cut the first bone, took a bite, and the meat feel to my plate. I know, I know, everybody talks about "fall off the bone ribs", but this was different. I expect restaurant ribs to fall off the bone, but when I try to pick the meat up with a fork, it shouldn't disintegrate into my plate. I had to scoop the meat up on my fork to be able to eat it. I basically ate rib pulled pork. On top of that, as you can see in the picture, the outside was very dark and even had a little burnt taste in areas. 

Don't get me wrong, they weren't the worst ribs I've ever had in my life ... they just weren't the best either. Maybe it was a bad night in the kitchen. The one thing I will say, is the sauce was DELICIOUS. Why do I think it was so good? Well, it tasted identical to Sticky Fingers' Carolina Sweet. It was a little thinner than SF's is, but we both agreed that it was very close in taste. 

With the dinners and a few drinks a piece, our bill was right on $50, so it wasn't a huge blow to the wallet. Minus my unfairly high expectations on ribs, we both really enjoyed the atmosphere and food. Our favorite Jazz bar has closed down due to some shady management, so we'll be returning for sure, whether it's for the food or for the music. 

If you'd like to look over their menu, or find direction, check out their website here.

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