Sou’Wester, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Southwest

(See the February 15th, 2011 Review here.)

“What are you doing this weekend?” Eric Ziebold asked me.

“The weekend is over,” I said (it was Sunday).

So it goes with the restaurant industry, whose “weekends” are generally Sunday and Monday, or Monday and Tuesday.

“Let’s have dinner at Sou’Wester.”

“I was just there.”

“We can bring wine.”


I’ve now had dinner with Eric twice at Sou’Wester (the first time he asked me to marry him), and both dinners started off the exact same way:

“We each have to get two grilled oysters, two fried oysters, and two steamed shrimp.” So it went: Grilled York River Oysters ($2 each) with bacon vinaigrette, Pan Fried Oysters ($2 each) with smoked pepper aïoli, and Peel and Eat Old Bay Steam Shrimp ($2.50 each) with Marie-Rose sauce made for one heck of a good $13 starter.

Then we each chose our own appetizers and entrees. There was no doubt about which appetizer I was getting; I got the entree with a bit of nudging.

“I need to warn you though: you’re getting the heaviest appetizer and one of the heaviest entrees, and you’re going to walk out of here stuffed.”

Works for me!

“Nose-To-Tail” Crispy Path Valley Shoat ($12) with cider-braised Savoy cabbage was homemade scrapple. Take your thumbs and your second fingers, and make the biggest circle you can, and that’s the circumference – it was also about two-inches high. Just the right size for a fried egg on top! Yep, a fried egg on top. Man, was it rich, and man, was it good.

Pan Seared Filet of “Chicken-Fried” Brook Trout ($22), after that appetizer, was just wicked – served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, braised collard greens and ham sauce (!), it was indeed a buttery, porky, red-meat-lover’s fish dish.

And no, I couldn’t order dessert, and yes, I walked out pretty much folded in half.

I need to issue the disclaimer that Eric picked up the check, but we always alternate rather than split (the time before, I picked up the check for him and Celia at Palena Cafe, so it all evens out in the end). Still, I’d be negligent not to at least mention that.

And with that disclaimer, I still have no problem in saying that Sou’Wester is one of the most underrated restaurants in town.

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