Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Southern Cooking Done Right - Southern Hands

[NOTE: This restaurant is now closed. The Hickory Hill location is still open.]

I felt a little bad about my recent post bashing the plate lunch I tried at the rum Boogie Cafe. Was I expecting too much from a simple plate lunch? After trying almost the exact same combination of food at Southern Hands Family Dining in Collierville it is obvious that I wasn't. At Southern Hands a $6.55 meatloaf lunch demonstrates the soul-satisfying power of  simple food that is made from scratch by people who understand flavor and seasoning.

The restaurant itself is certainly nothing special to look at, but there were enough cars outside at lunchtime to indicate good things about the kitchen. Sometimes the line between a soul food place and a country kitchen place can get blurry. The menu at Southern Hands didn't feature any soul food staples like neckbones or chitterlings and the sign didn't identify it as a soul food place. But I still ended up ordering the exact same foods that I tried recently at the Orange Mound Grill soul food restaurant. And my food was still prepared by black Southern women who knew how to get the maximum flavor out of cheap ingredients. 

The service was friendly and lightening fast. I told the waitress that I wanted meatloaf, turnip greens and black-eyed peas. I started to check Facebook on my phone to waste some time since I was dining alone. I had barely logged on when my plate arrived teaming with Southern goodness.

I looked at it a minute and realized I was feeling a little gun shy after last week's disappointing Rum Boogie plate lunch. Then I took a little nibble of the turnip greens. All they needed was a little splash of the obligatory Bruce's Hot Pepper Sauce. I tried the cornbread next. I ranted about the "Yankee cornbread" at Rum Boogie for a reason. Good cornbread is one of my ultimate comfort foods. The hot, fresh cornbread at Southern Hands showcased the delicious simplicity of cornbread done right. The onion and ham-packed black-eyed peas were excellent as well.

As I sampled my way around the plate I kept eying the meatloaf. If something looks truly outstanding I tend to taste it last, just to draw out the experience. As much as I love a well-seasoned meatloaf I'm not a fan of the bright ketchup glaze that so much of it gets doused with. That wasn't an issue at Southern Hands. They put a tomato-based meat sauce on their meatloaf. It's seriously the best restaurant meatloaf I've ever eaten. Out of curiosity I asked my waitress and she confirmed that the sauce is the same one that the restaurant uses on its spaghetti. I'm sure the pasta dish is good, but why mess around with noodles when you can enjoy the epic beauty of meatloaf with meat sauce? Southern Hands is a local chain with additional locations in the Wolfchase area and near the airport. Now that I've discovered this lunch option at a price point that is barely more than fast food I'll definitely be seeing more of them.        

Southern Hands Family Dining on Urbanspoon

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