Thanks to his amazing comfort food dishes at Beckett’s Table and his incredibly warm and genuine personality, Chef Justin Beckett has become a local favorite in the culinary scene. And with the recent opening of Phoenix’s Southern Rail, he is bound to gain even more–hungry–fans.
The menu at Southern Rail boasts flavors of the American South with a mission to prove that Southern fare isn’t all fried and heavy (though there is some of that too, if you’re game) thanks to a lengthy Beans, Greens and Grains section. The restaurant itself is much like the food–rustic, warm and comfy with a little dash of glamour (hello, chandeliers and oversize booths).
The pull-apart brioche rolls, with a crisp golden-brown exterior and a sprinkling of sea salt, are divine, especially when crowned with a dollop of accompanying apple butter. The Southern favorites of fried green tomatoes and dirty rice croquettes are perfect to share. With a thick coating of cornmeal and a slathering of pimento cheese, the fried green tomatoes are traditional and tasty. The dirty rice croquettes, with a beautifully crisp exterior, dish up a little sweetness thanks to the pickled corn relish.
The grilled watermelon salad is the perfect summer dish. The salad of large grilled watermelon chunks and pickled watermelon rind is rounded out with peaches, radish and fennel–not to mention an addicting pecan chimichurri. For a hearty followup, the cider-brined pork loin is completely mouthwatering. The meat is juicy and tender and the sides are just as tempting. The brown butter whipped sweet potatoes and collard greens are a delicious duo of sweet and salty.
A meal at Southern Rail is not complete with a sampling of divine desserts. The pie in a jar is as adorable as it is delicious. The flavor, which rotates, was key lime pie during our visit; it was wonderfully tart with a buttery sweet crust. For a real sweet ending, the beignets are warm and gooey, coated with what seems like a half inch of powdered sugar. It is impossible not to smile after biting into one of these beauties. www.southernrailaz.com.