We're always on the hunt for some good Southern food. We love Blue Ribbon for its barbecue and really enjoy the more upscale Hungry Mother for it's French/Southern fusion but last week, we decided to try out Tupelo because it served more than just Southern barbecue and it seemed authentic; plus it got good reviews on by a few bloggers.
The atmosphere of Tupelo's is friendly. It has a bar up front as you walk in and then a dozen or so tables. We arrived pretty early (around 6pm) because they don't take reservations. Judging on the crowd I don't think you'd have a problem finding a seat before 7:00 on a Friday. Our waiter was very attentive and friendly and excited about the menu (which is always a good sign). We decided to start off with some pimento cheese and saltine crackers, a classic southern dish, which was good but I've had better.
For our entrees I had the daub of beef brisket ($19). The portion was decent and the beef came nice and tender with a very flavorful gravy and horseradish cream. I actually would have liked more sauce because after I gobbled up the gravy on the first half of the meat, the remaining beef could have used some more to dip in it to add that extra flavor and juiceness. My dish came with mashed potatoes; again, they were good although nothing much to write home about. At this point, I think it's probably best to disclose that I am married to a southerner, have had multiple southern meals, home cooked and out at restaurants down South so I may be more critical than a typical Northerner.
B had the fried chicken. He said it was very good and flavorful and that the breading was seasoned very well and the meat seemed that way too. The chicken came with mac and cheese spiced with jalapeño pepper. B liked it and enjoyed the extra kick that the pepper provided. The collards that the dish came with were cooked well but a bit too vinegary and seasoned a bit strangely to B (a Southerner himself), almost like there was Chinese five-spice in it. B is all for exciting but was in the mood for some traditional collards.
J got the North Carolina pulled pork plate. He writes: "Overall, I was not a huge fan of the North Caroline bbq plate. I was hoping for more of a sauce, regardless of whether it was more vinegar or ketchup-based, and I felt the meat's juiciness was more because it was fatty. The "grilled smoky sausage" on top was somewhat excessive and didn't really fit in my opinion. Meemaw's red beans were well...red beans and not much else. I'd honestly have to say my favorite part was the pickles, especially the pickled cauliflower. All the pickles were somewhat unique in the heavy use of ginger. Regardless, it's hard to turn down a big plate of meat, so I didn't have too much trouble polishing most of it off. I guess I was just hoping for more." J also mentioned that he was very pleased with the beer on tap. It was ale you normally don't see on tap at other places.
C got the pulled pork slider for an appetizer ($3). It was a nice size and tasted very good. For an entree C got the rib special which he felt was a bit too greasy. He wished he had gotten more sliders instead. He did really enjoy the pumpkin beer (Pumpking) saying it was the best one he's ever had.
For dessert we all shared the brown butter pecan pie. It was made by Petsi Pies just down the street. It was sweet and gooey and amazing. The crust was buttery and flaky and excellent. A fantastic way to finish off the meal.
Overall, I think we were all generally pleased with our meals at Tupelo but thought that for the price (most entrees were around $18) the food should have been more spectacular than it was. It's decent southern food though and if you haven't ever tried real southern cooking, Tupelo might be a good place to start.