The Hungry Black Man Media, in its mission to uncover the culinary treasures of Atlanta’s Black-owned restaurants beyond the glitzy celebrity establishments, has unveiled a gem at Southern National, located at 72 Georgia Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312. This venture is helmed by the seasoned Chef Duane Nutter and brings a refreshing approach to American Southern cuisine with a touch of international flair, all set within a modern, dark, and swanky ambiance.
Our culinary journey at Southern National commenced with the Creole Cured Salmon & Cornmeal Blini. This dish was an intriguing exploration of flavors and textures. Sharing it is advisable, as its assertive and robust taste can become somewhat repetitive. The combination of salty salmon, creamy mascarpone, refreshing cucumber, tangy capers, aromatic shallots, zesty vinaigrette, and indulgent caviar formed a harmonious yet homogenous flavor profile, delivering savory, sweet, tangy, and briny notes in every bite. It’s a memorable experience that warrants exploration for its uniqueness.
Subsequently, we ventured into more familiar territory with the Lamb Burger Helper, a dish comprised of rigatoni pasta, smothered lamb and fennel, mozzarella, and Parmesan bake. While the foundations of cooking were impeccable, with perfectly cooked lamb and pasta, the flavor fell short of expectations. The lamb lacked seasoning, and the pasta sauce failed to provide the vibrant flavors anticipated. Instead, it presented as a flavorless rendition of familiar ingredients, missing the opportunity to infuse nostalgia with innovation.
The bread basket, however, was a delightful interlude. Featuring a Jalapeño Johnny Cake, Sheet Pan Biscuits, Steen’s Cane Syrup Butter, and Pepper Jelly, it offered a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. The Johnny Cake, with its subtle jalapeño kick, provided a moist and slightly sweet cornbread base, while the biscuits were a testament to culinary craftsmanship, balancing a crisp exterior with a tender, fluffy interior. Each condiment displayed precision in preparation, elevating this simple pleasure.
The pinnacle of our culinary journey was the Coffee Rub Grilled Pork Chop. This dish, featuring celery root and apple salad, sautéed mustard greens, mushrooms, and mustard red wine sauce, was a revelation. The pork chop, cooked to a perfect pinkish hue, showcased a smoky and slightly bitter note from the coffee rub, harmonizing with the refreshing crunch of the salad and the depth of sautéed greens and mushrooms. The mustard red wine sauce united these elements with a tangy and savory finish, resulting in an exceptional blend of textures and flavors.
Southern National has injected a much-needed spark into Atlanta’s food scene. While the menu may still undergo some refinements, and service could benefit from a touch more attentiveness, the unforgettable flavors served here far outweigh any minor shortcomings. The desserts, however, require significant improvement. Overall, Southern National earns a commendable 4.7 out of 5 stars, and I eagerly anticipate hearing about your own dining experiences here. For reservations, call 404-907-4245.