It seems like a long time ago when I first wrote about Purloo. It seems that way because it has been a long time; the restaurant housed in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum took a long time to open.
And then it took me a long time to get over there, because I don’t go out at night much since I’m frightened of the dark and I prefer staying home drinking chamomile tea and listening to Belle and Sebastian on the “hi-fi.”
But I did get over there, because our friend Marie, whom hereafter we may call “St. Marie,” offered to tend the female children so that my lovely wife and I could go out and brave the darkness.
Which we did, by dining at the bar surrounding the open kitchen at Purloo last week.
I have said before and will again that I am a fan of chef Ryan Hughes’ cooking, and that I consider him a friend. I hope it goes without saying that if I didn’t have a good meal, I wouldn’t be writing about it.
Fortunately, we did have a good meal, and so I am writing about it.
We started with the “Southern” board, which features pimento cheese, thinly-sliced smoked lamb, green tomato chutney, deviled eggs, fried pickles and boiled peanuts. My wife was born in North Carolina, and has opinions about pimento cheese. “It’s almost as good as my father’s” is about the highest praise she can give; I liked it quite a bit too, thought I’m hard-pressed to explain why, other than to say that I liked the amount of pimento to the other ingredients.
Both of us enjoyed the lamb; it’s tender and unctuous and the smoke is fairly subtle. Paired with the chutney, it’s pretty great. The fried pickles were really good, but I think boiled peanuts are a taste I don’t really have the desire to acquire. My wife, who as I mentioned is from N.C., said they were good.
We also had the Delta Tamales with crawfish red gravy, feta cheese and olives. There are people who will tell you that crawfish and tomatoes don’t go together; these people are wrong, and cite this dish if they argue.
The grilled hanger steak was perfectly cooked, and the shiitake mushroom and cheddar spoonbread that served as the base for the sliced beef reminded me of a Yorkshire pudding; it was savory, but also slightly sweet, which matched the onion rings. And the onion rings – tempura fried, they’re not complicated, but you will never have better.
We had fish, too; pan-seared drum with cardamom-grits, artichoke barigoule and more fried pickles. The drum was cooked perfectly. The artichokes were braised perfectly. The pickles were as good as in the appetizer we had. I admit that I am more susceptible to flavors like cardamom than the average bear, but I thought the grits were a home run. There was just enough that it was noticeable, but not, as sometimes happens with that particular spice, overwhelming.
It’s one meal, and I was predisposed to like the place. Take what you will from this “review,” I guess, but as I said before, no matter my prejudice and/or experience with Hughes, I hope you trust my objectivity.
This is a restaurant worth traveling to visit, people. It’s in our backyard. Have you been?