Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Southern Now Serving Hot Chicken and Sandwiches in Midtown

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 6:30 AM

The hot chicken plates at Southern come in four different styles, including the one pictured here: General Tso's. | Photos by Mabel Suen
  • The hot chicken plates at Southern come in four different styles, including the one pictured here: General Tso's. | Photos by Mabel Suen

At the end of the first week of service at chef Rick Lewis' new fried chicken and deli concept Southern (3108 Olive Street; 314-531-4668), Lewis finishes greeting the last customers of the day so he can instruct his staff to help silence a smoke alarm. "You can tell folks that the food is so hot here, we literally set off the smoke detectors," he says with a laugh.

Lewis' highly anticipated concept debuted in Midtown June 24 to a rapt audience and a service line that didn't slow down until closing time on Sunday, four days later. A few customers sadly missed the cut-off that day, timed equally unfortunately with Pappy's Smokehouse selling out of its famous barbecue next door. Those customers would have to wait a few more days to get a taste of this exciting new partnership.

Chef Rick Lewis.
  • Chef Rick Lewis.

As we reported in March, Lewis -- a James Beard Award nominee -- left his post at Quincy Street Bistro to partner with Pappy's co-owner Mike Emerson on this new concept. Southern focuses primarily on Lewis' take on Nashville-style hot chicken, a take on fried chicken known for its spicy cayenne paste. Like the traditional versions served at Hattie B's and Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, the chicken here comes atop a slice of white bread and served with pickles.

"Southern Pickled Vegetables" features sweet green tomatoes, pickled beets and okra.
  • "Southern Pickled Vegetables" features sweet green tomatoes, pickled beets and okra.

As at its half-sister restaurant next door, all visitors need to do to claim a plate is get in line. The queue forms in front of a well-stocked deli case, with print menus available for perusing at the entrance. Choose from snacks such as green tomato, beet and okra pickles ($4 for a board); deviled eggs ($6); and fried-green tomatoes ($5.50) with buttermilk-lime dressing. To accompany the main course, consider the sides, which include everything from mashed potatoes and mac-n-cheese to vinegar slaw and "Hoppin' John," a classic Southern side composed primarily of black-eyed peas and rice.

Visitors place their orders at the counter and can watch them being assembled in the open kitchen.
  • Visitors place their orders at the counter and can watch them being assembled in the open kitchen.

Southern's hot chicken comes in four different styles: original, mild, "Cluckin' Hot" or "General Tso's." The latter comes coated in a refined version of the sticky, sweetened sauce offered at takeout joints, while the "Cluckin' Hot" aims to bring the heat. Get these flavors by the piece, or try them as your choice of white meat, dark meat, chicken tender or chicken wings options.

On the deli side of the business, try items like the fried bologna ($11), piled high with pimento cheese and a sunny-side-up farm egg. Additional options include pastrami and Cuban sandwiches as well as the "Hog Father," with salame cotto, pepperoni, coppa, provolone, giardiniera, onion, greens and red-wine vinaigrette.

Now open in Midtown.
  • Now open in Midtown.

For dessert, choose from a housemade banana pudding or goodies made by Sugaree Baking Company and Pint Size Bakery.

Southern's current hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For the full menu and additional information, visit Southern's website or follow the restaurant on Facebook.

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