I am a True Blood fan.

Especially season 2, is like a foodblogger's dreams come true I tell ya! I can't wait for the season three to come back on air in 2010. Every time I watched that episode when Tara and Eggs eat that blood pie that Maryann baked for them, it totally grossed me out. But deep down, I actually have the urge for some southern American food!

Coincidentally Helen, Simon and myself are in the lower North Shore area one day and looking for a restaurant to settle down for dinner, suddenly South Restaurant (or simply South) came to Helen's mind, a popular southern American restaurant that always booked out during weekends. But not tonight, a quieter Tuesday night; we reserved a table after a quick phone call and found ourselves first to arrive at the restaurant.

The pokey red-glowing restaurant has no more than 10 tables, covered in classic red-and-white checked tablecloths with matching wooden chairs. If there is only one condiment to associate with the southern American food then it has to be the Tabasco sauce at each table. They even have a huge mural of Tabasco Oysters painted on one wall plus a faux possum on the tin roof above the dessert counter channeling the real Southern wilderness.

" class="size-medium wp-image-7237" src="http://www.atablefortwo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/south12-214x300.jpg" alt="south12">

South restaurant undoubtedly has an extensive menu of Southern American Cuisine - the Cajun, the Creole and the Soul. My knowledge on this genre of food can be counted within 10 fingers. I only recently learned about Gumbo on Jamie Oliver's American Roadtrip TV show, a hearty stew made famous in Louisiana. Thus, I know I am up for a treat tonight and looking forward to some finger lickin' good action.

A lot of Southern American food are either deep-fried, or deep-fried. The refreshingly cool house made Iced Tea and Lemonade are the best cleaning agent which help washing the grease down the system. Or if you fancy something a little different, the Arnold Palmer, a half-and-half of unsweetened iced tea and lemonade delivers a sweet yet tangy drink that I found myself liking it more and more on every sip.

Tonight, we are bound to share everything. Well, don't we always? The Wing-Tips is a welcoming starter of half an order of their renowned Hot Wings, nestled alongside a sampler portion of BBQ rib tips. The chicken wings are deep fried to a golden crisp, although I find the hot sauce is tamely weak both in substance and flavour. On the other hand, the BBQ rip tips are simply to die for. The ribs are slow-cooked until the meat simply fall off the bone and even the bone itself can be eaten. It is then grilled and draped with a homemade barbecue sauce that makes it a one mean spicy BBQ rib tips. Definitely one of the best ribs in townnnn.....

" class="size-medium wp-image-7228 " src="http://www.atablefortwo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/south3-214x300.jpg" alt="click for details">

Fried oysters off the special menu is two Pacific oysters beer-battered then deep fried, served with a creamy remoulade sauce. The oysters are as fresh as you can get, juicy meat with sweet brine encased in a golden crispy shell.

The only kind of hushpuppies that I know of are those that you wear on your feet, and not this type that you put in your mouth. I actually quite like how the name "hushpuppies" came by - as fishermen and hunters who quickly fry some corn meals and feed them to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook-outs or fish-frys.

Resembled to an Indian Aloo Chop, the hushpuppies are deep fried fritters made from cornmeal with a mix of onion, scallion and Italian herbs. It is dense with a spicy herb flavour, a nice snack to go with beer.

" class="size-medium wp-image-7231" src="http://www.atablefortwo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/south6-214x300.jpg" alt="south6">

The Fish Tacos is another delightful surprise. Not to be confused with Mexican fish tacos, this San Diego style FT is a mouth-watering combination of ling fillet, battered then deep fried to a golden crunch, then wrapped inside a fresh tortilla along with fresh guacamole, shredded cabbage and a drizzle of tartare sauce.

We got to have some fries in our meal! Any pork that had been slow cooked for hours always get my vote. The pulled pork sandwich is a mean burger of slow cooked pork shoulder with special spices, chopped, shredded then simmered with BBQ sauce. Served with coleslaw, pickle, and crunchy shoestring fries. I can't help but dabbing Tabasco sauce all over the fries for that extra kick.

"Are you guys from a photography group or something? Cuz of all these big cameras taking pictures of food..." The friendly waitress asks when she comes back for the second time and sees us busy taking photos and still haven't touch any of the food she brought out earlier. I kindly explained to her our intentions, she just smiles and thinks is funny, "Oh, I thought I am the only one who will take pictures of what I eat." No, you are not the only one.

" class="size-medium wp-image-7233" src="http://www.atablefortwo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/south8-214x300.jpg" alt="south8">

I wanted to try Gumbo since I watched Jamie Oliver cooking it on TV. This traditional heart stew is cooked with chicken, okra and smoked Andouille-style Sausage and served with steamed rice. This cajun dish is aromatic and highly seasoned with lots of herbs and spices which can be a little overpowering as I can't really taste the flavour of the sausage. I am little underwhelmed by not the cooking, but the Gumbo dish itself. But I can picture myself cooking it during winter season, it would be a perfect comfort food.

The crawfish etouffé (pronounced as Eh-too-feh) is the most expensive dish of the night also on the menu. This creole dish is a Louisiana favourite with a generous amount of red claw yabby tails chopped then simmered in a spicy gravy then served with steamed rice, just like the gumbo. I absolute loving the spicy gravy on the dish but the crawfish is rather overcooked and a little tacky on the teeth.

"I think the pumpkin pie has my name written on it," Helen already had her eyes on the last slice of Pumpkin pie in the glass display before we even decide what to order. This American all time favourite is light and strongly infused with ginger and cinnamon. Surprisingly the pumpkin flavour is very subtle, you almost forgot that you are actually eating a vegetable pie.

My cherry cobbler is heavier than I anticipated and couldn't finished it. As the cherry cobbler will be reheated and served warm, I decided to go for the a la mode and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I learned something new tonight, never know adding ice cream to dessert is called "a la mode", I like it. The warm baked cherry cobbler is a nice balance of dark sour cherries beneath a thick layer of buttery sponge cake top.

The best dessert among them all has to be Simon's perfect choice of the Pecan Pie. The pie is jam packed with toasted pecans on top of a syrupy layer of filling using brown sugar and bourbon, to bring out an amazing toffee flavour. Leo's (the chef) own shortcrust pastry for the pie is masterfully thin and crispy. Simon also goes for the a la mode which isn't necessary in my opinion as the pie is already out of this world on its own. An extra take-out order that Simon couldn't resist, with the excuse of "sharing with friends". Yeah... right...

We obviously ordered way too much food than we can chew for this evening as I was full to the brim slowly waddling out of the restaurant. But there are still so many dishes on the menu that I want to try! There's Maryland style crab cakes, Leo's cowboy chili, the Bucktown Prawns (not shrimp?), Jambalaya, Enchiladas,  Muffaletta Sandwich... I think another visit to South is a must in my food diary.

Now I got the Jambalaya song stuck in my head....

[d]jambalaya, a-crawfish pie and-a fillet [a]gumbo
Cause tonight Im gonna see my machez a[d]mio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be [a]gay-oh

Son of a gun, well have big fun on the b[d]ayou.
Son of a gun, well have big fun on the b[d]ayou.
Son of a gun, well have big fun on the b[d]ayou.


View Larger Map

South Restaurant
222 Military Road (cnr Waters Road), Neutral Bay, Sydney
P: +61 (02) 9908 5225

Opening hours: Dinner Monday to Sunday 6pm - 10pm
Lunch on Sundays 12pm - 4pm

Specials: Half price for Hot Wings on Every Monday. (Includes Wings + Wing-Tip starters) Dine-in Only.

South Restaurant on Urbanspoon