A little more than halfway between the Corner and the Downtown Mall is one of Charlottesville's best restaurants for food, service and atmosphere: Southern Culture.
For 12 years, Southern Culture has specialized in creatively prepared Southern cuisine served in a cozy, quaint dining room. From our experience, the restaurant both lives up to and surpasses its reputation.
The interior walls are decorated with pictures of the owner's family as well as pictures of the band Southern Culture on the Skids, for whom the restaurant is named. Inside the main dinning room, peach sponge-painted walls, figurine lamps and white Christmas lights complement the quality of the food. It is both modest and charming.
The dozen or so tables that fill Southern Culture's main dining room are lined with basic white paper cloth - a subtle nod at the serious but down-home cooking the restaurant features.
Rooted in Southern classics like gumbo, fried okra, Mississippi delta catfish, fried chicken and baby back ribs, the menu provides many delectable choices. So many sound so good.
The diner's eyes find the fettuccine Claire, created with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and chilies, finished with a parmesan cream sauce and topped with fresh tomatoes and roasted pecans.
The prices of entrees range from $6 for a cajun burger to $15 for the tequila lime tuna.
The gumbo ($3.95) - a changing recipe from day to day - and the cajun baby cakes ($6.95) are delicious precursors to the main dishes. Both appetizers have several distinct elements that combine for a sumptuous final taste. The gumbo consisted of shredded chicken, rice and celery bathed in a somewhat spicy, creamy soup.
The cajun baby cakes were a combination of shrimp, scallops and crab, all encased within a crispy browned coating. The cajun baby cakes were placed on colorful fiestaware and speckled with a pink jalape