Anyone tried Sou'Wester in the Mandarin?
We had dinner at Sou'Wester last night and I can recommend it. The menu is not really all that southern comfort at this point. I would describe it as sophisticated American cuisine with a touch of southern influence (shrimp and grits, a sweet potato based vegetarian entree. The setting is wonderful and comfortable though the hotel itself is out-of-the-way and has no parking other than valet, so plan to add $9.00 to your ultimate cost. But hey - it is downtown. Parking is not free or readily available anywhere downtown.
Anyway, we had a table overlooking the river and the marina. The service was perfect - never rushed, but never slow. Very professional. The bread was terrific - small biscuits and small cornbread rounds. You could indulge in a bite or two without filling up. One of us had a she-crab soup which was presented as a sizeable mound of crab meat and the broth was poured around it. Two of us had the red drum, served with butternut squash fritters and creamed sweet onions. The fish was topped with a charred leek chimichurri. I had thought that would be much too strong for the delicate fish and was prepared to scrape it off but in fact it was fine. Delicious! My husband had the pork belly and loved it. We finished by sharing a scoop of grapefruit sorbet which was intense and mouth-puckering. Perfect for ending a meal.
Total for the four of us, $150 before tip. And really worth it.
I've had dinner there, and it was quite good. My wife and I went there on a date. The staff is quite attentive, but I think that was partly due to the fact that not many people were there. Biscuits and Cornbread were delicious. The fried chicken was really good. We also got the pork belly with pickled watermelon rind, which was also delicious, but quite small. I ordered the rabbit with rabbit sausage which was dry and not very flavorful. Desserts were limited to 5 unoriginal items. Hash browns were also quite good. Overall a pretty good meal. I would stay away from the rabbit, but all other items we had were very tasty. You definitely don't get the Cracker Barrel, southern feel. It feels more formal than the 'casual' label they push. And you share bathrooms with CityZen, which may be a reason for the formal feel. We enjoyed the meal, but I feel like we had everything they had to offer and it was not an eye-opening experience so we'll continue our search for our repeat restaurant in the DC area.
Somehow I managed to miss Seitsema's review so thanks for the feedback. I went for lunch today. We got there just after 11:30 and the place was prepping for lunch. Lots of table arranging and seat dusting.
I wanted to try the fried chicken but schedules didn't permit the 15-20 minute wait time so I had a pork belly BLT. It was delicious although the bread was meh compared to the insides. The accompanying pickled veggies were very good and the tater tot side was fun.
The decor reminds me a bit of Charlie Palmer's. Only overlooking the SW freeway. At noon the sun shines blindingly in so virtually all of the shades were closed, negating any view.
I'll probably go back just because of the location right near a client. And I would like to try that chicken.
Did you happen to read Tom Sietsema's review in the WaPo magazine (this was a couple weeks ago)? He wasn't totally negative but said the place seemed not to understand that Southern food is comfort food — that the space itself, as well as the waiters, presentation, etc., were too snobbish for the type of experience Southern cuisine demands. He did like the biscuits, as I recall, and didn't say that a lot was necessarily bad with the food itself, maybe just that it was "trying too hard" (for lack of a better term) given what it's supposed to be.
Anyway, I hope that helps in some way (and makes some sense!). Cheers,