It was back in 2011 that we were last at Southern 11, not too long after it had opened. The room has had a remake since then. Gone is the shiny chrome and the very modern look. Thousands have been spent on turning it into a repro American BBQ dive . OK, not so much of a dive as the Smokehouse in Galax, Virginia but a decent enough repro.
There’s been a makeover of the menu, as well. Not in the dishes, as such but certainly in the ingredients. Then, there was a clear commitment to food provenance - free-range, rare breed pork from Yorkshire, beef from longhorns and chicken from Goosnargh. Now, it's all just generic meat, presumably keeping costs down. Not all change is progress, I suppose. The dishes are much the same and servings seem more generous than my notes from 2011 suggest was the case back then. Almost needless to say, this was a dinner that was going to feature pork and beef.
There’s a couple of burger sliders to start. Tasty beef, not overcooked, on a mini brioche bun. It has the required accompaniments – lettuce, tomato and a tomato sauce spiked with a good hit of chilli. It may be worth ordering the full size burger on the standard of the slider. Five potato skins come “loaded” with pulled pork mixed with a slightly sweet, slightly spicy sauce – good one bite sized skins (or two bites if you’re being refined like my partner).
As for mains, smoked brisket features in a larger version of the brioche bun. This is good meat, the smoke noticeable, the cherry bourbon sauce softening it slightly. It comes with nice crisp fries. I couldn’t make my mind up between the brisket or the polled pork. So, I went with the “two meat plate” and satisfied both cravings. Now, the pork is maybe even better than the beef. Certainly up to the standard of American chain places, if not some of the down home BBQ pits in North Carolina that I’ve been to. Very well flavoured and it pulled perfectly. Fries and slaw also on the plate. And, for no reason other than greed, we ordered very crisply battered onion rings.
I’ve often said to myself that I don’t think BBQ travels well – not even outside the American South but they’re having a good stab at it here. I enjoyed my food more than a few recent meals.