The goal is to “create a memorable Southern dining experience,” according to Reenie’s Facebook page. I was delighted to read of their intentions, before sharing lunch at Reenie’s with a few friends.
As diversified as our dining scene is on the Coast, there certainly is a dearth of good Southern food. The very heart of the farm-to-table movement, perhaps the most logical, healthy and delicious food movement to pass this way, is all about eating where you live, and we, my friends, live in the Deep South.
Southern food, you say? Not exactly your idea of fine dining? It is a culinary tradition I’d stand up to any other in the world. Including the ever-popular French country, regional Italian and many others, but with a caveat. To get it right you have to use fresh ingredients, appreciate technique and, I hate to be so biased, but it helps if you have a few generations of being Southern under your belt.
There are a few harbingers to look for from a good Southern cook, and most can be found in the details of perhaps the most mundane corners of the pantry. How is the cornbread? What about the white and brown gravy?
Deep frying, perhaps the most maligned cooking method good Southerner’s love, is critical. It gets its bad name from cooks that use old oil, don’t maintain the proper temperature and overcrowd the fry pan. Success is in the details.
OK, OK, but what about Reenie’s? I wanted to set the stage, so that you might better appreciate what I am about to say. Reenie’s nailed it. We had roast pork, maque choux, homemade green beans, jalapeno cornbread and fried green tomatoes, and everything was solid. Really good, exceptional and before we left, we were already talking about coming back again.
But I saved the best for last. The fried pork chop was off the charts, I mean really, stunningly good. On my way home I stopped at the grocery store and bought pork chops.
My efforts later that night were nowhere close to what Chef Ally Bullock created for us (remember her from C&C Italian Bistro?), but the seed has been planted. I am dreaming of that perfectly cooked, flaky battered pork chop and I have to have it again, and soon.
Reenie’s has just opened, and a hard copy and expanded menu is on the way. Look for the daily specials on the chalkboards, good service, and fair pricing. But as for that chop, I’d pay any price. Yes, it really is that good.
Reenie’s Southern Kitchen and Parrish’s Lounge
Where: 217 E. Beach Blvd., Long Beach
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; closed Tuesday