There is a reason why items like the Midtown Billiards burger become famous, even among people who appreciate finer food. It is no culinary marvel, it is just the right food in the right setting. Bar food, especially when eaten late and after a few drinks, doesn’t need to be fancy. It needs to be flavorful, probably greasy, and not too expensive. Those qualities make it hard for a nice dinner spot like South on Main to cater to a bar crowd who really just want a good drink, conversation, maybe some music, and a bite to eat.
Thankfully South on Main’s new bar menu manages to do exactly that.
“We are really going for something simple here,” Chef and owner Matt Bell tells us. “I went for the type of things I like to eat late night at a bar, even if it doesn’t necessarily fit our traditional dinner menu style. I wanted something relatively cheap, still very good, and something our kitchen could still easily whip up toward the end of a late show after our kitchen is closed for dinner.”
The bar menu at South on Main is something that has always existed, even if in secret, since opening. Not long after the restaurant opened they stopped printing an actual bar food menu, and instead just verbally passed on the menu contents. The new menu greatly overhauls those past offerings and returns to an actual menu.
Some of the dishes are carry overs or simplifications from other menus. You will find boudin balls (which are an appetizer on the main menu), a simplified cheese burger, a fry basket, and their (should be at least) world famous hot chicken sandwich. All of which are frequently ordered at the bar, and priced with a less expensive bar-goer in mind.
“On the dinner menu we have our double burger that comes with fries and a soaked salad that is a reasonable $15 for all of that food,” Bell continues. “Our bar crowd is not always looking for that much though, so we have a very simple single patty burger, still using our same quality beef, that is just a stand alone option for a lot less.”
The new items that have found their way on the menu are some of the most interesting. First up they are doing a split hot dog topped with house made cheese wiz and fried onion straws. It is simple, but something I can easily see myself ordering at 9:30 pm after a few drinks (especially now that I am in the neighborhood).
Slightly new is the cauliflower po-boy. This takes their existing cauliflower popcorn that has been very popular on the appetizer menu and turns it into a classic po-boy. It is perfect for the growing vegetarian crowd, and is a much better offering than most places have for non-meat options.
It might sound odd, but the other new item might be my favorite item on any of the SoM menus. The alligator hand pies are the perfect balance of meaty, slightly spicy, and a touch salty. It taste amazing after a few drinks (which is when I had it first), and holds up well without any (which I did the second time around). Don’t let the alligator throw you off, it is ground and has a flavor somewhere between chicken and beef. I expect the bar to sell a lot of these once people try them.
The new menu starts officially tonight and is available from when the bar opens at 4 until close.