Back in July, a good friend and I had dinner reservations at South on Main, and were looking forward to celebrating the end of another successful summer. When we arrived, though, we found the restaurant (along with much of the rest of downtown), was out of power. A summer storm had rolled through, knocking out the grid, but it at least left behind a much-needed cool spell and a bit of sunshine peeking through hazy clouds.
The host assured me they were still seating, so we took our spots. But when the waiter came, I assumed the menu would be limited. “Oh no,” he said. “I haven’t been told of any menu limitations. They’re back there still cooking, just with headlamps on.”
That, dear friends, is commitment to the dining experience.
Now, our fried chicken livers and waffles we ordered as an appetizer did end up having to be altered—without power, they could not plug in the waffle iron, but instead made some sweet little pancakes that went just as well, if not better, with the fried chicken livers.
I’ve been thinking about South on Main ever since. I hadn’t had their lunch anytime in recent memory, so when the opportunity presented itself this week, I jumped on it.
We ordered hushpuppies, an inexpensive indulgence at $4. I expected perhaps four, but was presented with a basket of eight or ten. These were fried harder than some others I’ve had, with a dark brown, crispy-thick exterior and a soft, warm inside. Served with ketchup and a mayo-something dip, these nearly ruined me for my main.
My companion’s catfish basket with beans and coleslaw (which she substituted for fries) was what I’ve come to expect from our many good fried fish places in Arkansas. Great batter with nice flavor, perfectly fried, with a thick, fresh piece of catfish inside. The coleslaw’s tanginess had a bit of bite to it, making it unique among my recent coleslaw experiences. Dee-lish!
My trout came with pickled fennel and apple that was perhaps my favorite part of the entire dish, cold and barely sweet. The basmati rice was light and fluffy, and the trout was fresh and well-seasoned, the qualities of the fish shining underneath a dollop of horseradish cream. It’s a smidge expensive for lunch, at $13, but so worth it if you’re in the mood to indulge a little.
And, because why go without sampling an adult beverage, I also tested out the Old Fashioned along with my friend’s Bees’ Knees. Our waiter/bartender added a bit of extra sweet to it to suit her tastes, and I must say it suited mine as well.
Between their gourmet-Southern take on the menu, excellent customer service, and a roll-with-the-punches attitude, South on Main remains an exemplary destination in the Little Rock food scene. If you get a chance to eat at South on Main, go. Just
cut their power and go. You won’t be the same when you finish.