Another birthday at work this month and six of us piled into a couple of cars to celebrate at lunch. This time around it was Big Tim’s birthday, and of course he wanted a hamburger. The challenge was that the burger had to be from one of the places on my list that neither of us had been to. I offered two choices that have both been suggested to me numerous times. The first was Off the Hoof, in Arlington, but that would have been a 30 minute ride, both ways. The other was South of Beale, downtown on South Main. Since several us had meetings and things going on that afternoon, the choice to go to South of Beale was an easy one.
South of Beale is located on South Main, between Talbot and Vance. There’s a decent sized lot just north for parking as well as metered spots all along Main. Inside there’s an inviting atmosphere of a small restaurant and neighborhood pub. In fact, South of Beale stakes its claim as Memphis’ first Gastropub. A Gastropub refers to a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food. They feature several Microbrews such as Ghost River, Lazy Magnolia, Schlafly, New Belgium and Kronenbourg. Another cool feature at South of Beale is the local artwork of Daniel Tacker that’s displayed throughout the pub. A few of the pieces really caught my eye, as did the price tags. Luckily for me, I was in the market for a burger and not art.
South of Beale is a Project Greenfork Certified restaurant. Project Green Fork contributes to a sustainable Mid-South by helping reduce environmental impacts, with a focus on strengthening homegrown restaurants. Big Thumbs up to South of Beale for this.
The six of us settled in to a table and all but one of us ordered the SOB Burger. The burger is served with fried mozzarella, onion ragout and a side of homemade Cajun spiced potato chips. As we went around the table, I heard two orders for medium, two for medium-well and one for well-done. Since the pub was empty other than our party of six, I assumed we’d all get our burgers cooked perfectly as ordered. While we waited, we were served some really tasty seasoned popcorn. I’m not sure what was on it, but man it went fast. Good stuff!
All five burgers were brought out at once and looked just mouth-watering and divine. The South of Beale Burger is a sight to behold. It’s served on a freshly toasted Ciabatta roll, with the fried mozzarella sitting on top of the onion ragout and sided a generous portion of Cajun potato chips and a stainless steel ramekin of homemade ketchup. Really everything just looked delicious.
Unfortunately the burger looked a lot better than it tasted. Every burger at the table was cooked well-done leaving them tasting very dry. There was no juiciness whatsoever going on, and while I could see some seasoning in the patty, it wasn’t enough to overcome it or aid the dryness. It’s too bad, because this was a great setup for what could have been an awesome burger. The mozzarella was great, it melted perfectly over the flavorful taste texture of the onion ragout. The fresh Ciabatta roll was a great choice of bun that added even more flavor and texture to the burger. The homemade chips were done just right, and ended up being my favorite part of the meal. They were a little chewy in the center, nice and crisp around the edges and coated perfectly with a yummy Cajun seasoning. Mmmhmmm, that good!
I really loved everything but the burger patty. I give the SOB Burger 3 out of 5 stars. All the potential was there. The fact that the patty was undeniably dried out and overcooked really ruined this one for me.
South of Beale
361 S Main St
Memphis, TN 38103
If you have a favorite burger that you think is Memphis’ best or that I need to try and review, please drop a note in my suggestion box.