DC: In spirit of Mardi Gras Week, we were excited to discover the Taste of New Orleans (TONO) menu at South City Kitchen, which runs for a couple of weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. As we arrived, we found ourselves in familiar territory. Like Eleanor’s (another restaurant we’ve reviewed), SCK is located in the Ivy Walk Shopping Center.
LC: As I entered, my eyes were immediately drawn to the open kitchen to the right. Illuminated by red heat lamps, with chefs intently preparing food, the kitchen makes an enticing first impression. Dare I say that the modern glow and of it all adds a sexy vibe to the ambiance? When a restaurant is bold enough to expose their kitchen, I have high expectations for the food, so I hoped I was in for a great meal.
DC: The first thing I noticed before me was the long row of tall tables that resembled a communal dining setup. Seeing the diners conversing, laughing, and enjoying their food gives an immediate liveliness to the situation.
LC: I love it when a restaurant actually honors a reservation, in a timely fashion. We were seated promptly by the friendly and welcoming hostess. Though the restaurant wasn’t bustling, it was certainly busy. Still, the efficiency of the service was transparent. Our server Jason was quick to acknowledge us… a definite plus in my book.
DC: Our bums were barely cozy in our seats before Jason came over to greet us. From the start, he was upbeat, welcoming, and made a genuine attempt at conversation. I really appreciate when a server ventures beyond the normal “script” and actually personalizes their interactions with guests. He gave a thorough yet succinct overview of the menu, highlighting their most popular dishes. This was very informative and helpful. I ordered a glass of Elk Cove Pinot Gris (’12), a nice refreshing Oregon pour that was a lovely start to the meal.
DC: Before our stomachs could growl at the thought of the tantalizing menu, Jason brought out a basket of biscuits and cornbread. And let me just tell you… these biscuits were moist, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, unbelievably-delicious gifts from heaven. I’m pretty sure I am not worthy of their goodness. One bite had me beside myself, and praising the biscuit Gods.
LC: Typically, I am not a fan of overly sweet or overly savory cornbread muffins. These were a scrumptious blend of both. They were hot, moist, and all that you could ever hope for in a cornbread muffin.
DC: Being the self-proclaimed Sherlock of restaurants, I researched the menu beforehand, so I already had an idea of what I wanted to order. The Gumbo ($8) was a definite “go,” as it is obviously a quintessential Louisiana dish. It consisted of catfish, crawfish, andouille, okra, brown roux broth. The Gumbo was okay, but was probably the least memorable thing of the entire night. I could mainly taste the okra and an earthiness in the sauce (perhaps filé powder?), but overall, I yearned for more seasoning.
LC: I concur. It wasn’t bad, but definitely not exciting.
DC: For our second appetizer, we were torn between the Barbecued Shrimp ($12) and the Gulf Crab & Apple Beignets ($9), so we asked our new buddy Jason to steer us in the right direction. He suggested the Barbecued Shrimp — Meyer lemon, brown butter, garlic, sweet potato rice grits. I must say, Jason’s recommendation was a definite hit!
LC: The Barbecued Shrimp were my favorite dish of the night. It was a wonderful blend of flavors, and the Meyer Lemon provided a welcomed springtime freshness. When I saw “barbecue” as the leading descriptor, I was expecting a heavier dish cooked in barbecue sauce, but it was actually more of a lighter, grilled shrimp dish. My palate completely missed the “barbecue” part, but it was certainly delicious, nonetheless.
LC: For my entree, I opted for the Georgia Mountain Trout ($22), as Jason mentioned that it was the healthiest dish on the TONO menu. It consisted of meunière brown butter, caper berries, spring onions, white bean puree. I don’t have much to say regarding the trout, but the one thing that brought the dish to where it needed to be were the caper berries. The white bean puree was appreciated as well. They were like mashed potatoes, without the guilt.
DC: The caper berries brought a tangy, zippy flavor that I also enjoyed. Though we’ve both had capers, this was our first experience with “caper berries,” and I am pretty sure we are both fans. For my main dish, I ordered the Coq Au Vin ($24) — Palmetto poussin, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, creamed red bliss potatoes, cippolini, baby carrots, rosemary. Firstly, I’d like to just take a moment to say: YUM! An ingredient list like that is pretty self-explanatory, so I will let you use your imaginations and salivate! I will say that it was very flavorful and a deliciousness meld of textures. Everything about it was marvelous.
LC: Overall, I like the idea of SCK. Like their website proclaims, it is a sophisticated, chic contemporary Southern dining experience. I look forward to returning to try items off of their regular menu, like the fried chicken (voted Best in Cobb County, Jason explained) and banana pudding, which comes highly recommended.
DC: Taste of New Orleans at South City Kitchen was the perfect way to wrap up our Mardi Gras Week here at Two For A Chew. Our meals encompassed the many tiers of New Orleans cuisine, from Cajun/Creole flavors to classic French cuisine. The service was impeccable, food and wine came out at perfect intervals, and though the Gumbo wasn’t remarkable, I enjoyed mostly everything I tasted. Like LC, I look forward to coming back to check out the rest of their menu, and I’d definitely like to revisit TONO next year.
Score: 3.75 / 5
South City Kitchen Vinings is located at:
1675 Cumberland Pkwy SE
Smyrna, GA 30080
Ivy Walk Shopping Center