Needing a place to catch up with Official Friends of DCWD Burgh and Flo over dinner, we chose the restaurant across the street: Southern Hospitality.
The other day I was watching How Do You Know, the Paul Rudd - Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy set in our fair city, when I noticed for the first time that Paul Rudd's character lives in Adams Morgan. And if the backdrop highlights are correct, it would sit on the same block as Southern Hospitality. So that's one thought. The other, more importantly, is that the restaurant occupies the former Adams Mill space, a dank bar with a spotty reputation. So that's the other thing I have in my mind when I walk in.
What's good is that Southern Hospitality has cleaned up a great deal. It's decorative touches are like a million other restaurants: exposed brick, wood paneling, dim lighting, . Seating is expansive: two full floors of twos and fours and booths, with a lacquered wood bar downstairs. It's definitely a step up from Adams Mill, but it still feels tremendously bro-ey on the inside, the sort of bar that exists quite frequently in Georgetown.
The group of us order a number of dishes, of which three encapsulate the dinner and cover the kitchen's theme: the jambalaya, the rockfish-risotto fritters, and the shrimp and grits.
The fritters arrive first. Small bites of fish and risotto fried into a crust and served with remoulade, they are fairly plain, lacking the trademark creaminess or punch of flavor that might normally be expected; the remoulade helped a little bit, but not terribly much. The filling cried out for a dash of salt or some heat, and the more I revisit it, the more I challenge whether or not this combination was doomed from the start.
The jambalaya, a traditional blend of rice, shrimp, chicken chorizo, and andouille sausage, is similarly bland. The fillings are nice, but the stew binding them together is gummy and thin. The best jambalayas I've had were hearty, piquant, and felt luxurious as you eat it. This was none of those things, the choice of chicken chorizo feeling sort of empty, and the whole thing just disappointed.
If Urbanspoon is to be trusted, I'm clearly in the minority here. But I just didn't like it at all.
Food Rating: * 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Frat House
Vibe: Chatty to Energetic
Cost: $$ (out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing: If you're already up for it, I guess you can wander the 18th Street stretch and cap off the night at any number of Adams-Morgan watering holes (The Reef? Madam's Organ? Dan's?)