Southern Rail

Good eating in the Valley of the Sun
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BillBuitenhuys
Posts: 397
Joined: 7 years ago
Location: Chandler, AZ
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5 years ago

Justin Beckett's new place has been open about 3 weeks yet the staff and flow was spot on for our visit during a very busy Saturday night. Wide open layout, with a lengthy bar, communal table, a series of curved (somewhat small) booths, and lots of 4-6 tops. Overall I think the Scott said it seats 170 during the summer plus another 50-60 on the patio for cooler months. Service was spot on from the hostess, to our main waiter, to the bus staff. At 3 weeks into things and a packed house, I can't understate how impressive that was.

The food is everything you would expect from JB. Homey, full of flavor, and sensible.
The four of us started with the mac and cheese, corn bread with honey butter, smoked trout, tomato tart, and fried green tomato with pimento cheese spread. I would order any of these again.

Two of us got the duck confit w/dirty rice and collards as our mains. Deliciously tender and decadent duck, rich, flavorful rice, and twangy collards I could eat by the pot full. Rumor has it that this may become a signature dish.

Lill got the chicken and dumplings. The dumplings were a bit dense but overall it was a wonderfully comforting dish that Lill said she would order again.

We also got to try the grits (creamiest, most buttery grits I've ever had) and the broc/leek/cauliflower casserole (very very good but intensely rich).

They were out of beignets by the time we got around to ordering dessert so we will order ahead next time.

The cocktail menu and beer/wine list were put together in a very thoughtful, sensible way. Everything makes sense with the food being served. Many of the cocktails have a sweet tea, honey, and/or lemonade element that make them both wonderfully refreshing and a natural compliment for the food menu.

Negative:
The room was extremely loud even when much of the bar and communal area had cleared out. The GM said that sound curtains have not arrived yet and they have a sound consultant coming in soon. Good to know they are aware of the issue.

Can't wait to go back to shop around Stinkweeds down the street before dinner and Changing Hands after dinner.

Southern Rail
300 W Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85013
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Skillet Doux
Posts: 3437
Joined: 7 years ago
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5 years ago

We popped in for dinner last weekend with the Doux Drop, and I need to mention up front that Justin spied us, told the hostess where to seat us, and stopped by a couple of times to chat a bit. First impression... whoa, were these guys packed. Like, jam-packed. Good for them.

The menu seems not so much a strict expression of Southern standards as it is Justin's food as influenced by Southern standards, if that makes any sense, which isn't at all a value judgment... just so's you know what to expect. Though it should probably also be noted that Southern isn't typically my strong point.
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Tomato, Bacon & Onion Tart
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Whoa... BIG flavor right out of the gate. This was dynamite. Flaky pasty crust, sweet and smoky with some beautifully caramelized tomatoes on top, and a drizzle of honey. Seriously delicious dish -- favorite of the night, no question.
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Fried Green Tomatoes
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And the fried green tomatoes were no slouch, hot and crisp, juicy and sour, and I totally dug the spicy pimento cheese as an accompaniment.
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Greens Salad
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I barely had a taste of Dr. Doux's salad, but it was so darn purty that I figured I'd better post a photo :-)
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Smoked Chicken & Andouille Gumbo
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I went with the gumbo for number two, a smoked chicken and andouille version, enrobing the standard scoop of rice. A touch thin for my tastes, but that's probably a matter of preference. Nice depth of flavor, though not an especially dirty bowl, for better or worse. Those who dig gumbo will know what I'm talking about :-) Solid entry, though. I enjoyed it.
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Scallop Special
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The fish special ended up being a scallop dish with some succotash sensibilities and, I believe, a plum sauce. The bite I had was lovely, and Dr. Doux was pretty darn thrilled with it.
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Crispy Duck Leg Confit
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Not so much with the crispy, but everything else was darn tasty. Here's the dirty flavor I was looking for in the gumbo :-) I was thinking at the time that the rice had an almost risotto-like quality to it -- quite creamy -- and of course, now looking at the menu they actually call it their dirty rice "risotto," so there you go. And I agree, Bill, the funky sting of those collard greens was great. Mine still needed a little tweak or two -- I think that crispness would help -- but yeah, this was mighty fine.
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Beignets
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Justin mentioned that they're zeroing in on getting the beignets right, and I think these were close. Perhaps a touch dense, but not too much, and man, it's fried dough... tough to go wrong here.

I think they're off to a really solid start over here. It will be interesting to see what kind of expectations people bring to the table. Like I say, it isn't strictly Southern, so to speak, and I wonder if that will rub some people the wrong way. But we had some really, really nice dishes. The tart.... woooooo, need to get that again.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
artvandelay
Posts: 147
Joined: 7 years ago

3 years ago

It's been a while since an update on here and so just a quick report that Southern Rail is still an incredibly enjoyable night out. Our brood descended on them last night on the early side (although it was restaurant week) and had a lovely meal. Service was really top notch. I think my kids are better than many in a restaurant but I am nonetheless aware (sometimes painfully so) that we can present somewhat of a challenge for servers. Nonetheless. the service was impeccable throughout. And the food was similarly a highlight. Wife got the RW menu, which for $33 for three courses and a glass of wine, was a steal. She got the fried green tomatoes, corn chowder and the vegetable casserole. All three were a hit with her and the kids who liberally sampled off her plate. Kids got mac and cheese, a salad and a side of cauliflower and the brioche rolls. All were excellent. On the recommendation of our server I got the smoked chicken and biscuits. The flavors were outstanding. I wish there was a little more chicken but that is a minor quibble. Our waiter generously brought a beginet for each kid and I think they are nailing these now pretty well.

All in all just a great experience.
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