Ally
(Barbeque Shrimp over Cheesy Grits)
 
Over the course of the last six months, I've received numerous emails asking if the little Southern restaurant near Southside Park I mentioned late last summer was still going to open up shop. The restaurant, South, does still have plans to open its doors soon. In fact, I attended a small dinner party/private menu tasting at the home of the owners, Ian and N'Gina Kavookjian, just Sunday night and was lucky enough to sample some of the dishes that'll be on the menu. I walked in not knowing what to expect and walked out thinking, "Wow! South is the real deal." If the menu items I tasted are any indication of what we have to look forward to, then Sac's in for a serious treat. The Kavookjian's aren't amateurs throwing chicken bits in the fryer and slapping bacon on everything and declaring their menu "Southern," these guys know how to make food so good that you'll have no alternative but to say, "Screw it!" when it comes to your diet and order another round of gumbo.
 
"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him...the people who give you their food give you their love." ~Cesar Chavez
 
Their website boasts the mission statement, "South is traditional family food, unpretentious, with no gimmicks, and no crazy science. At South we are not trying to reinvent the wheel, we are just trying to express 200 years of our family’s story on a 12” plate." I couldn't have said it better myself. What I encountered in their kitchen was Southern hospitality and fare at its finest. Ian and N'Gina have over thirty years of restaurant and hotel experience between the two of them. They have the business stuff down pat but what sets them apart from a lot of the restaurants currently opening up in the Grid is that they know how to make you feel like family just in the span of one visit. From Ian's friendly chatter about the history of Carolina rice to N'Gina's brilliant smile and infectious laughter, you can't help but feel like you've known the two of them for ages. I have a feeling that South will be one of those restaurants that will be quickly embraced by the neighborhood. Simple, straightforward yet remarkable meals, passionate proprietors, and a relaxed atmosphere...oh, and did I mention that they plan to have a full bar? So add delicious cocktails to the mix. South most definitely has all the makings of a phenomenal neighborhood restaurant.
 
(Vegetarian friends don't despair, according to Ian and N'Gina, South plans to have an exciting, secret vegetarian menu for it's non-meat eating guests.)
 
Food-wise, here's a sneak peek at some of the delicious goodies South plans to offer:
 
Picnic Board- Country ham, pickled beets, deviled eggs and Farmhouse cheddar. The perfect accompaniment to a refreshing glass of wine or an ice-cold Southern beer. The deviled eggs were terrific, if I had had a bigger purse I would have snuck a few out of there. ☺
 
 
Chicken and Andouille Gumbo (over Carolina rice)- this dish blew me away. I'm pretty high maintenance when it comes to gumbo. I dislike it if it's too spicy, watery or oily. Seriously, I'm worse than Goldilocks. This gumbo was perfect. I loved the spicy rounds of Andouille and the sauce wasn't overwhelmingly hot. I even dipped my cornbread in the leftover gumbo sauce, it was too good to waste.
 

 
 
Spicy BBQ Shrimp over Cheesy Grits - plump, spicy shrimp over a base of silky, sinful cheesy grits - this dish will make your eyes roll back in your head. Who knew cayenne, homemade shrimp stock and onions were all you needed to make food magic?
 
 
Fried Chicken- perfectly cooked. Juicy on the inside, properly seasoned and crispy on the outside. (The chicken shown was sliced up into bite-sized pieces so we could share during the dinner party.) South exhibits some home-style cooking that's so good that you might need to peek into their kitchen to make sure your Memaw's not back there frying up the chicken herself.
 
 
We also had some Black-eyed Peas with Jalapeños, but I was busy enjoying my delicious Pimm's Cup and forgot to snap a photo. Sorry!
 
 
The proposed menu is as follows (a mix of old school and new school Southern cuisine):
 
 
 


 
NOTE

A definitive opening date hasn't been set yet; however, South will be participating in several culinary and community events over the summer. They also do private catering.
 
You can also keep abreast of their Indiegogo campaign (starting on April 16th) on their website: South
 
3 Responses
  1. Sonny Jaben Says:

    My friend, Ruby McIntyre of Ruby's Cafe, a legendary soul food restaurant in KC used to say: "Food so good it'd make you slap yo mama!"


  2. Ally Says:

    Sonny, this was!
    In fact, it was so good I should have slapped my papa too! :)


  3. Trish Says:

    Okay, now I'm hungry! Great review - can't wait until it opens!


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