Southern Inn Restaurant

Written by on February 17, 2012 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Lexington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: When making plans for a birthday weekend surprise for my Sweetface, I came across review after handsome review for the Southern Inn, not to mention the high note of praise from our B&B hostess, Mary Stuart. Checking out the delectable online menu, I knew it would be the perfect choice for a casual Friday night meal after a day of driving and activity.

Type of cuisine: “Our menus are designed to offer our customers a range of choices from the casual to the fine dining experience. We use local, natural or organic product when possible. The menus are ever changing taking into account the season and the creativity of our chefs.”

Ambiance: “Relax with family & friends in the casual elegance of our restaurant’s dining room.  Enjoy local offerings from our contemporary American menu, as well as classic dishes and homemade desserts.  Toast the day with a glass of wine from the area’s most extensive wine list.” We walked down Main Street to a mini, rounded, burgundy awning to find Southern Inn. Above, a long blue neon sign with red and white accents, reminiscent of a musical theater helped steer our way to the front doors of the establishment. At the foot of the near floor to ceiling storefront windows, two large, wrought iron planters held seasonal greens and flowers. Looking directly beyond and into the windows, we were greeted on the right side with random trinkets including a wooden frame of old photographs of the establishment, a horseshoe, rocks, a mini, toy, wooden rocking horse and a rusted coffee grinder. To the right, the window setting included a set of chefs, their porcelain hats tops of salt & pepper shakers, alongside an intricately painted, wide vase, with the word, Lexington inscribed, holding a whisk, wooden spoon and marble rolling pin. A large, colorful, metal peacock graced the display with its open tail-span. We walked in to find a surprisingly modern, brightly colorful space. The yellow walls graced with brightly colored, painted canvases with scenes of landscapes and one with turtles. Dark wooden booths lined the wall space opposite the host podium, as we made our way back, towards the high brick-lined windows leading up to the ceiling. We passed through a rounded doorway, past the immense windowed kitchen to our mini loft seating area.  White moldings set against the ceiling as tiles seemed more calming with the dim amber lighting of the establishment. Our dark, wooden chairs matched tables set with white linen and charcoal napkins. A large gold-rimmed mirror assisted our space in looking more grand and expansive. The bar area going back towards the front of the establishment hosts the bar, reminiscent of an historic mansion library or den, with glass shelving holding the bottles of alcohol. Directly across the bar seating, a wall-length booth extended towards the front of the restaurant, four tables with chairs opposite lined ahead.

What I ordered: The moment we were seated, Chris had only a split second to glance at the menu before he proclaimed: “Baked Brie!” Being his birthday weekend, the celebrations were set to begin the moment we set foot in our rental car; so, baked brie ($7) it was. The wedge of Brie was wrapped in Phyllo with Poached Asian Pear and served with toasted slices of buttered Baguette and a side of Asian Pear Jelly. When our Brie and cranberry juice ($3.50) were served, Chris began his meal with a salad, the Spinach Salad ($4.50 for half order): crisp baby spinach tossed with candied walnuts, shaved red onions, sliced orange and honey-poppy seed dressing topped with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese. I, too, felt the urge for greens and joined him, but ordered the half Caesar Salad ($4) to sample more from the menu: crisp Romaine lettuce tossed with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and tossed with croutons and a heavily anchovy-based, traditional Caesar dressing. For our main entrees, Chris, again, knew immediately what the doctor ordered, and opted for the Grilled New York Strip Steak ($32), served on parsnip duchess potato alongside French green beans and sauteed wild mushrooms and a special helping of asparagus at Chris’s request. He was so eager to try the Southern Inn Fried Chicken ($14), he excitedly asked me if he could order the steak for dinner and the Fried Chicken to go, so that he could eat it “later“. Instead, we just got the fried chicken as my entree, and he enjoyed one of the two, generously sized chicken breasts that came with the mashed red potatoes and fall vegetables (broccoli and carrots). Jealous that my dish came with real mashed potatoes and his only had a dollop of mashed parsnips, Chris ordered a side of mashed red potatoes ($4) to accompany his steak. We had a coupon from our B&B for one free dessert at Southern Inn and, rather than make a decision, just ordered our two most appealing options: Brigadeiro Tartlett ($6.50), a short dough crust filled with a coconut-caramel, topped with bittersweet ganache, vanilla whipped cream and toasted coconut served with spiced caramel sauce and crème Anglaise. The second, a Chocolate Indulgence Bread Pudding ($6.50). While I was a bit hesitant at first, asking our server helped. She said that it was not a traditional bread pudding and, instead, had the consistency of a brownie. Sold! The hot chocolate and chocolate chip bread pudding was served warm, topped with French vanilla ice cream and a homemade chocolate marshmallow, served over a drizzle of bright, tart raspberry sauce and crème Anglaise. Chris apparently needed a chocolate treat, himself, and requested a cup of hot cocoa ($3) with which to wash down his meal. The powdered hot chocolate packet, mixed into 12-ounces of water, came served in a white mug, the front of which had an illustration (in blue) of the outside of the Southern Inn, and the back, a notation: “All Roads lead to Southern Inn Lexington, Virginia“.

What I loved: The baked Brie was the favorite part of my meal at the Southern Inn, though all of the food was tasty, juicy, fun and enjoyable. Chris most enjoyed the presentation of the food, the way it was plated.

Why I loved it: The bustling feel of the space, the ease of conversation and the lack of intrusion one feels as he dines with noisy neighbors who haven’t a care in the world. The friendliness of the townsfolk and the tasty food led to the enjoyment of our dining experience at Southern Inn. The one suggestion we might make to the staff at Southern Inn is that college student servers, working their first jobs, should be given a lesson in how best to present themselves at a fine dining establishment; not reaching over us and between our conversation to fill a glass of water, asking if we are finished with our plates/eating utensils before grabbing them from us.

Cost: Average to high ($11-$32 per sandwich or dinner entree)

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