Ryan Trimm is the man who could be credited with being the catalyst of Cooper-Young's revival. The neighborhood, located in the Midtown of Memphis - has always been home to other chefs, but Trimm's Sweet Grass seemed to kick-start a much-needed neighborhood resurgence. The cavernous space at Southward feels homey and comfortable — Photo courtesy of Russell Hayes / Southward Fare & Libations
So there's plenty of hope that with the opening of Southward Fare & Libations, this local boy can be a similar magnet for local culinary creativity in East Memphis, where locally-owned restaurants are few and far between. Southward is Trimm's third Memphis eatery (The second being Next Door, which is a casual cousin literally next door to Sweet Grass.), and while he stays true to his roots with Southern fare, he does so with style and substance.
Trimm is all about what's locally-sourced and seasonal, and the menu at Southward reflects this heritage. There are oysters offered daily, lots of comforting foods including grilled cheese and tomato soup, infusions of Memphis-style barbecue and loads of seafood options. Baskets of spicy cornbread are offered at each meal, and dishes change frequently. It's kind of like being at your grandma's - you never quite know what she'll be serving up, but you know it will make you feel good.
For lunch and dinner, you can choose from small and larger plates. There's always a pimento cheeseburger on the lunch and bar menus, and at lunch, the executive option is a deal: $14 gets you a soup or salad, entree, dessert and iced tea. Southward's grilled cheese and tomato soup, the ultimate comfort food lunch pairing — Photo courtesy of Southward Fare & Libations
The bar offers an impressive list of Southern-influenced drinks, and there are also handcrafted mocktails for those who don't care for alcohol. The wine list is extensive but perhaps not as unique as expected. Small plates are also available in the bar.
The atmosphere at Southward - given the fact the space it occupies is cavernous - could have been cold and stark. But Trimm used soft white walls, touches of green, huge chalkboards and warm tones in the fanciful drawings of farm animals to make the huge space feel homey.
Dining chairs are mix-matched, and there are large, family-style tables and smaller, more intimate ones. The floors are done up in warm hardwoods. Barn-like rolling doors are spaced here and there, and also can close off the private party room upstairs. Still, the rustically chic touches don't equate to a country feel, per se. Rather, it's more like being at your city friend's upscale farmhouse for a meal.