Norm was right.
We all want a place where everybody knows our name. Somewhere where you can say, “Bring me the usual” and they don’t stare at you like you have two heads. I have finally found that place.
Bill Darsinos has the restaurant biz in his blood, along with a little bit of Ouzo. His family has run the venerable Darfon’s in Donelson, Tennessee since before I was a Nashvillian. When he opened Sophie’s Bistro literally at the mouth of our neighborhood I was ecstatic. Some high-end Mediterranean food within walking distance of my house was a recipe for my waistline to swell.
When the economy slumped they pulled back a bit, renamed the restaurant Southside Grill and redirected the menu back to a more middle of the road experience. Still solid food, but not as creative as Sophie’s.
But Bill couldn’t help himself. The spectacular Duck with cranberry maple sauce would show up as the special for the evening…or the lamb chops.
Over the years, the menu has crept back up in creativity.
But something about them recognizing us when we come in just makes me happy, and it has become a little escape place for me and my wife. This makes me wonder why I have never written a review of the place.
The restaurant is not big. A small bar with 3 cocktail tables fronts a dining room with about twenty tables and five picnic tables tucked on the patio. The decor is warm colors and wood with tasteful fixtures and art work on the wall. It is just dark enough to be romantic.
We snuck in recently on a Saturday night. They offer half price bottles of wine on Saturday and Sunday and it was the kind of warm summer night that was perfect for a seat on their patio for some al fresco dining. Sounds like a date night to me!
The serve Provence bread with an herbed olive oil that sets everything off nicely. We opted to start with a Mediterranean plate which featured kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber slices, grilled pita wedges, light, fluffy hummus and decadent goat cheese with honey. We probably could have stopped there and been perfectly happy…but we didn’t. I have a definite weakness for simple, excellent food.
Our waiter detailed the specials (which I also have a weakness for) and I pretty much caved immediately. Mushroom ravioli with a marinara sauce with lobster and crab. Dark and earthy, sweet and spicy all at the same time. Truly decadent.
My wife opted for the duck (again) which is one of her all time favorites. It was served with cheese grits and kale but they graciously agreed to swap the kale for sautéed spinach. The duck was perfectly cooked with just a touch of pink and it was moist and flavorful. I know because I stole a big bite.
Over the years, I think we have tried just about everything on the menu. All the entrees are of a uniformly high quality and the most expensive entree is $22. Frankly, the food tastes more expensive than that. I am particularly a fan of the lamb chops served on a bed of simple linguine with olive oil and feta cheese and anything that they crust with pistachios.
While we had no room for dessert that night, they always have a special cheesecake and the desserts are solid and well executed.
If you have a Sunday afternoon open, Southside’s brunch is also excellent and I particularly like their Eggs Oscar with lump crab, asparagus and béarnaise.
Excellent quality food, warm service and the kind of surroundings that make you want to linger over a meal.
Drop by and tell them that Jeff Mac sent you. Just don’t try to steal my table.