Southern Hospitality

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I loooove southern food. I like fried foods, I like sweet foods, I pretty much like any food.

So when I was taking a leisurely stroll down Ninth Avenue a couple of weeks ago and spotted Southern Hospitality (645 Ninth Avenue), I knew I wanted to try it out. I suggested it (along with a handful of other restaurants around the city) to my friend and she seemed excited about Southern Hospitality in a way I had never seen. And then, when I started doing my research, I discovered that not only had it gotten terrible reviews, but ... it's at least partially owned by Justin Timberlake.

I don't think it'd take a genius to realize that I'm not and wouldn't be the biggest Justin Timberlake fan. I was Team Backstreet Boys and Team Nick Carter (apparently Nick and Justin's blond hair and proximity in age made them direct rivals). But even as my adoration of Nick Carter fell to the wayside and I realized how charismatic Justin Timberlake could be (though, if we're going to be honest, my favorite 'N Sync member was definitely J.C.), I just couldn't bring myself to like him. I've always found his voice to be too whiny, his music not my style and oh, his acting terrible. (Not to say that Nick Carter's acting is any better -- in fact, I think it's much worse. But Nick seems to have the wherewithal to keep his lack of acting chops mostly to himself.) I just never saw Justin Timberlake as particularly successful in any of his endeavors. (And now I worry for MySpace, heh.)

So anyway, this is all to say that I was wary -- very wary of dining at Justin's establishment, especially having read of at least 3 accounts of food poisoning at the location I was headed to. The night before our get together, I e-mailed my friend and recounted the bad reviews and food poisoning horror stories and told her I hadn't known the restaurant was Justin's before suggesting it. Her response?

" ... that's why I wanted to go ... because I thought a JT restaurant franchise should be delicious"
My friend is very easy going and accommodating, and now I was beginning to question her judgment. But she seemed set on the restaurant and the particular location (the other location received slightly better reviews), so I braced myself to be eating cornbread for the night (though what I really wanted was chicken and waffles).

We got to the joint at about 7:45pm on a Tuesday evening and were greeted by a couple of extremely attractive females. We were seated and menus were brought out. I noticed that the crowd was peculiar, peculiar in a way that may not be so peculiar in another city: it was extremely blond, young, attractive and female. Put in another way, it looked like we had stepped into a staff party for Hooter's or the Hawaiian Tropic Zone. There just aren't that many blonds in the city, and definitely not so many in the same place at the same time.

I was starving at this point and knew that cornbread would not satisfy me, so I did go with the chicken and waffles and told myself I would rip the entire thing to shreds to check that it'd been cooked before eating. Which is exactly what I did.

The chicken was good. I didn't like the skin at all -- maybe it was buttermilk, REAL buttermilk, instead of all the fake buttermilk batters I've been sold in the past. Whatever it was, I found it weird. It tasted like bread or something that shouldn't be on chicken, so I didn't eat much of it. The chicken was really tender, kind of like "fall off the bone" tender. The waffles had good flavor, but the maple syrup was what made the dish amazing. The scoop of butter they put on my plate looked like plastic and tasted not too far off from plastic ... make of that what you will.

My friend ordered the pulled pork sandwich, which came with fries and some pickles. I had a bite of her  pork after she'd finished eating and it was dry as sand.

This Mississippi Mud Pie was so dull I had to spice
the photo up by putting it through a filter.
We shared the Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert, which was pretty horrendous. The portion was pretty small and it was sloppy and overly sweet -- and worse than something I could've made for myself at home. I had to tear the not-yet-ripe strawberry apart to use as accompaniment to the brownie slosh in order to get it down. And when the strawberry was gone, I was done with the pie. We did not finish.

There was one true high point to the night ... this very tall, older guy was walking around our table and area and the gals at the table next to ours stopped him and asked for a picture. I heard one of them call him "Sossy" or something with an S. He looked vaguely familiar to me but I just couldn't place him. I knew he was an athlete and I asked my friend to take a look but all she noted was that other girls were stopping him for a picture. About twenty minutes later, one of the girls at the table adjacent to ours made a call and said loudly, "Did you get the picture? Yeah, it's Darryl Strawberry!"

Ah, yes. I grew up on the guy ... how could I forget?

Even the possibility of chance encounters with long ago celebrities is not going to make me return, especially not to the Theatre District location. Our servers were friendly, the hostesses not as much. The restaurant seemed to be some sort of mind trip -- a place where only Laker girls (or pretty, blond tourists) could visit. I'll stick to Popeye's for my fried chicken, thankyouverymuch!

Oh yeah, I didn't get sick.

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