This cold, gray, cold (worth mentioning again), winter morning we ventured downtown for brunch. The King made reservations for us, which turned out to be a great thing because everybody else seemed to know what we were getting ready to find out: this place was good!
This SOB made me want to…go back and get more. Never would I have put those three letters together to speak of something so good. In this case, SOB stands for South of Beale, an eclectic, gastropub located just where the name implies in the South Main Arts District of Downtown Memphis. Being located in the Arts District serves SOB well in that the atmosphere has a kinda hip, artsy vibe to it, and the menu, though not expansive in regards to length, has been curated with a sort of creative bent. The expanse, here, has come by way of reaching to far corners of the globe and bringing dishes together that would have otherwise never been able to mesmerize our taste buds at the same table. They’ve created art in this little place — in the combination of world cuisines, the use of high-quality ingredients, and the flavor and textures of their food.
After being served the house cinnamon popcorn while mulling over the menu, here’s what we chose to eat and review…
- Appetizer: Fried Green Tomatoes
- The King: Chicken and Waffles
- Me: Shrimp and Grits
- Dessert: Jack Daniel’s Bread Pudding
Fried Green Tomatoes: King(4/5) Me (4.5/5)
Honey, let me start off by saying this right here: anybody who can make out of season tomatoes taste like something worth eating get’s stars in my book. I’ll be honest, the tomatoes by themselves were pretty good. The breading by itself didn’t have a lot of
Chicken and Waffles: King(5/5) Me (5/5)
Now look here, this ain’t your average chicken and waffles! I don’t even know where to start. You don’t even have to read whatever I am going to write about them after this sentence. All I gotta say is, “Get you some!”
We don’t usually eat chicken thighs — the king doesn’t like them, but these were so, so good. They were drizzled with lavender honey and topped with pecans. They didn’t need any of that because they were good with and without it. The meat itself was SO moist and tender. They HAD to have marinated it…I’m guessing in buttermilk, but I can’t be sure. It was just good. Whatever they did
The waffles were some of the best I’ve had— well they were actually the ONLY cornbread waffle I’ve ever had, but they left me knowing that this wouldn’t be my last time having them. They reminded me of sweet jalapeno hush puppies, which is saying something because I DO NOT like hush puppies. I tell you what, if they make balls out of this batter, baby, I’d definitely become a hush puppy convert. The outside had a little crunch, as
They have many eclectic dishes on the menu, some sounding more daring than others, but this
Shrimp and Grits: King(5/5) Me (5/5)
Even while reminiscing on the experience of allowing the savory flavors of this dish dance a jig on my tongue, I am doing the happy dance within myself. I’m trying not to do it outwardly because I don’t want people looking at me like I’m crazy–actually, I don’t care. This dish was so good that even the King is still talking about it. In fact, without even knowing that I was writing about the shrimp and grits, he just stated out of the blue, “Man, that was good. Those grits were done perfectly. I found no fault in them.” That actually says a lot because he
The funny thing is that I almost didn’t order it due to the way it read on the menu. I thought the tomato flavor would overpower the dish, but I’m happy to say I was wrong. I started with the grits by themselves which were stone-ground so the grains were more substantial than your average instant grits. They were fluffy and buttery. I could taste the cheese, but it wasn’t overpowering, kind of like mild cheddar. The grits were okay alone, but they seemed to be like one member of a pair of dancers waiting for his partner to come onto the scene and get the party started, and that is EXACTLY what the tomato broth did — it started the party.
The salt and acidity of the tomato broth served as the yang to the yin of the buttery grits. The balance was magical. The red bell pepper was sauteed to perfection, and the green onion offered just the right amount of pungency to break up the savory flavor of the grits and tomato broth. I usually don’t do bell pepper or raw green onion, but this time I decided to let the chefs intentions manifest onto my taste buds, and I all I can say is, “My compliments to the Chef”. The shrimp was tender and perfectly done, and Andouille sausage was also tender and as good as it always is to me.
Everything in this dish worked together to make music in my mouth. Apparently, the King had a little song going on too because he almost got his hand slapped sticking his fork back into my bowl. I let him make it though because I understood his desire to have another taste. Actually, I can’t wait to have another taste
Bread Pudding: King(0.5/5) Me (1.5/5)
Well, there’s no sugar coating it, the bread pudding was bad for us. The King said it was so bad that the ice cream on it didn’t even taste good. That was a lie, but I got what he was saying: the ice cream was guilty by association. He didn’t like the texture, I almost did. He tends to like a looser bread pudding than I do. I liked the semi-firm, cuttable texture of this one, but the mixture hadn’t quite soaked all the way through some parts leaving those parts a little drier. The top had problems of its own. It was crusty, which is normally good for baked dishes, but this crust was kind of flaky and dry. There were a couple of scorched spots on the top close to the edges, which is sometimes okay on baked goods and which the King normally loves, but this right here was not happening. There was also something that bothered me about the end of the flavor–the part you taste in the back of your throat. It was just wrong. I keep trying to figure out what it tasted like. It tasted like burning plastic smells. Maybe it was the Jack Daniel. I drink every now and then, and I actually HATE the way liquor tastes, so maybe that played a part in my strong dislike of this particular, hard-to-pin-down flavor. That being said, I am usually able to appreciate good liquor in a dish. There’ll be no certificates of appreciation handed out here. At least for me, though, the ice cream made it more tolerable.
Overall: King(4/5) Me (4.5/5)
Look, with the exception of that bread pudding, South of Beale owes us NOTHING! The atmosphere was warm and pleasant, the prices were more than fair, and the serving sizes were large and more than filling. The service was a little slow, BUT I believe that’s because we came right at opening, they seem to cook everything from scratch, and stone-ground grits aren’t exactly the instant kind. The servers were friendly, and mostly everything was just right, so all in all, it was well worth our extended wait. If you don’t try another restaurant in Memphis, try this SOB, you’ll be glad you did.
Have you been here? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments! If you have any suggestions or comments, please comment, email us, or write us on Facebook or IG! Until next time, take care, eat “good”, and God Bless!