Food & Drink
Critics’ choice: Southern comfort from coast to coast
Welcome to “the future of the Southern restaurant in America,” said Bill Addison in Eater.com. Chef Edouardo Jordan opened JuneBaby only a few months ago, but already the Florida native has made a mark, taking “bull’s-eye aim” at a sweet spot that lies between tradition and modernity, “between homeyness and professional rigor.” Having established himself as a rising star with Salare, a modern-American restaurant nearby, Jordan returned to the regional cuisine of his youth ready to offer a personal interpretation. So while a meal might start with “enduring comforts” like flaky golden biscuits, a diner quickly encounters more layered pleasures, like okra and peanuts in a vinaigrette whose spicing recalls North Africa, or fish and grits in a red-sauce distillation of tomato, shrimp, fennel, coriander, and cognac. Pork features prominently at JuneBaby, and Jordan showcases cuts that don’t often appear in A-list restaurants but have long been staples in the kitchens of African-American families like his own. Eating his delicious chitterlings, made from the pig’s intestines, “feels like both a revolutionary act and a matter of course”: He’s making Southern food a cuisine that can “enlighten, challenge, and unite.” 2122 NE 65th St., (206) 257-4470
Spoonbread Bistro Richmond, Va.
Richmond native Michael Hall has been working his magic with upscale Southern cuisine for years now, said Jo Lord in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. At his new venture, located in the Fan District, inspired food combinations and artful plate presentations “come in waves,” and every dish evinces “a laid-back confidence and good old Southern charm.” Hall has always believed that people eat first with their eyes, so he tops his playful Lobster Poptart appetizer with a small rose, serves roast duck under smoke-filled glass, and garnishes his carrot cake with a gold-leaf-dusted carrot. The food itself is Southern fare with European accents: The duck is roasted in molasses and “perfectly complemented” by a caramel corn pudding and roasted Brussels sprouts. Even better might be the tender butter-poached lobster tail with lemony rockfish “seared to a crisp.” The warm, comfortable dining room gets drama from large stained-glass windows and a copper-colored cathedral ceiling, and the happy surprises from Hall’s kitchen never cease. “Just when I thought a dish couldn’t be lovelier, along came another that proved me wrong.” 2526 Floyd Ave., (804) 359-8000
Hazel Southern Bar & Kitchen San Francisco
Across the street from Uber headquarters, “rib-sticking” Southern cooking is what the people want, said Michael Bauer in the San Francisco Chronicle. Since opening this spring, Hazel has emerged as the perfect place to watch multitasking young San Franciscans mingle. Much of the bar-restaurant’s down-home fare is based on recipes of the owner’s Georgia-born mother—the titular Hazel. But chef Casey Hatwig knows comfort food, too, offering the bar crowd appetizers like tater-tot nachos with pimento cheese. For dinner, you can order a $19 half roast chicken served in a cast-iron skillet or “some of the best ribs I’ve eaten in the Bay Area”—beautifully caramelized and falling off the bone. You’ll be forgiven if you think you’ve stumbled into the best party around. “The theme may be Southern, but the restaurant feels exactly right for the area.” 1446 Market St., (415) 851-8562