When you are from the South and living in the West, you find yourself always on the lookout for the comforts foods of home---done in such a way as to remind one of home. Thus when a new restaurant opens proclaiming themselves as barbecue and Southern cooking then of course I have to go give them a try, which found me on a Thursday night at Southpaw BBQ and Southern Cooking.
This is the bar there and while I don't necessarily drink liquor it was fully stocked and crowded. I did, however, decide to try one of their many drafts and went with the Firestone Union Jack IPA which was really good. I don't like hoppy tasting beer and this one had nice hints of citrus and grapefruit and sweet malts that even out the hops and take away any lingering bitter aftertaste that some beers can have. It was a spot on recommendation by the waitress.
Since this is a barbecue place they have your choice of sauces on the table to add spice and flavor to most any of their dishes including sangre de Memo hot sauce, Memphis barbecue sauce, Eastern North Carolina vinegar barbecue sauce, sweet potato habanero, mustard vinaigrette and sweet chili vinegar. All are quite decent representations of the sauce flavors from across the US though which one you take to will depend on your personal taste buds and what you choose to put it on.
I decided to go with the fried catfish with braised southern greens, baked mac & cheese and hush puppies. I really enjoyed 90% of this dish. The fish was fried but tasted liked it had been baked--it was crispy, not greasy and the fish cooked perfectly. None of the sauces was called for on this--it is good as is. The greens were braised and had a hint of brown sugar added to them which gave it a sweetness I wasn't too keen on but when I added the Eastern NC vinegar sauce it took that edge off and because they were cooked to tenderness it made them better. The baked mac & cheese was also very good something everyone should get. Two types of cheeses, a breadcrumb crispy topping and bacon fresh and hot out of the oven only enhanced its gooey buttery flavor--they should have a big bowl of this as an entree. Sadly the downfall here were the hush puppies which is sad since I feel they are the easiest thing to get right but these were overcooked, dense, chewy and luke warm at best. No amount of butter could save them--they really need to fix this since these are a staple for Southern dishes.
The SO got the pulled pork shoulder with heirloom tomato and cucumber salad, butter lettuce with warm blackeyed pea vinaigrette, smoked peppers and blue cheese and of course those hush puppies which were just as bad as the ones I had (so I know it wasn't just mine). I personally was not a big fan of the salad side dishes--felt they were ok and just standard--though the SO thought they were quite tasty and fresh--maybe just wasn't in salad mood. I give them props for the blackeyed peas in the salad--very unique. The pulled pork was good (wish the serving size was bigger) it was lightly smoky, tender and juicy. I do wish that had not added the light chili oil to it and just left it fresh out of the cooker so we could add our own sauce flavor to it, which we did but there was still the underlying flavor that was on them--at least it wasn't drowned in sauce. One of the better pulled porks in this town.
I felt the need to go all the way with the Southern cooking and get the banana pudding in a Mason jar for dessert and boy howdy am I glad I did. This was delicious to say the least. The pudding had a creamy banana cheesecake like texture and taste to it that pleased my palate. Fresh cream, crushed candied nuts on top--this dessert was a fabulous to topper to an all around decent meal.
Having only opened last year this place seems to have found its stride (hush puppies not withstanding) and was fairly jumping on a Thursday night so it has found a niche and is doing well serving it. They don't take reservations but you can eat at the bar. It will be busy during prime time hours and can be a little loud like most San Francisco restaurants. Either way if you are down for some good Southern cooking hit up Southpaw to dig in and chow down.