Sunday, August 4, 2013

So Just What Is a “Speak-eatery?”

“…Social is a one-of-a-kind ‘Speak-eatery’ in central Lafayette.

‘We felt there was a void in this particular market. We have some great restaurants in town, we have some great bars in town. We're trying to marry the two and a kind of chef-driven bar…’

‘When I think of food I think of hanging out with all of my friends in the kitchen, talking and sharing, and that's what this place is about. It's a place to come to share experiences, food, drink, and just have a great time…’

‘It's going to provide Lafayette a really unique choice. Kind of a home away from home, and that's our goal…’.” (Brittany Bodden at

That’s how the chef and the co-owners (Charlie Goodson, Jody Ferguson, and Marc Krampe) of Social Southern Table & Bar describe this recent addition (opened in late January 2013) to the Lafayette restaurant scene.
This restaurant is part “Southern comfort” and part high-tech. On the side patio sits a large and comfy looking sofa just perfect for relaxing while waiting for your table while sipping on one of “…an overwhelming menu of great beers (many of which are not found anywhere else in town), house concocted beverages, and wines” (
But perhaps not in July or August.

The interior waiting area is outfitted with a porch swing
and two inviting chairs placed beneath the restaurant’s logo of a bee. “Why the bee?” I asked our server. “It’s an invitation to ‘bee social’,” she replied.
The anteroom also contains a small cluster of post office boxes that “are filled each month with a special beer, wine, or food, plus flavor notes, recipes and pairing suggestions from Chef Marc Krampe. Members pay a monthly fee to have a PO Box and are also invited to special events and tastings at Social throughout the year” (
But the open kitchen,
high ceiling, and—especially—the copper-tone beer pipes that span the ceiling like a giant piece of modern art signify that this is not “your mama’s Southern cooking.”
Most of the food “…is made in-house from the pickles to the sandwich bread. The soft-spoken, food-excited chef Marc Krampe and his staff have fun putting their own twist on Southern food. Krampe studied at Le Cordon Bleu before working his way up in an Austin restaurant… His recent return to his childhood home of Lafayette is a great addition to the growing and evolving culinary community here…” (
We had studied the on-line menu and each of us had settled on our individual main choices. But what to add as a third? I was intrigued with all but one (the poutine) of the “Social Fixins,” which are intended to feed two. I was particularly interested in the brussel sprouts (with lemon roasted garlic aioli and shallot butter), the summer street corn (with cotija cheese, kaffir lime crème fraiche, and Chimayo chili powder), or the Steen’s Syrup braised greens. But I couldn’t convince Chuck to agree.

How about one of the appetizers? Like the chicken fried green tomatoes with jalapeno ranch? Or the Boudin “Kolache” (boudin and white cheddar stuffed sweet roll with a caramelized apple and onion coulis)?
Just what is a kolache? I had never head of them until our first visit to the Hill Country of Texas in December 2008. “Kolache…is a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough. Originating as a semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe, they have become popular in parts of the United States. A related dish is a klobasnek or klobasniki, which often uses similar bread, but is filled with a piece of sausage. Purists assert that these are mistakenly referred to as kolaches. They may also contain ham and cheese, sausage, jalapeño slices, and resemble a ‘pig in a blanket’” (

So, to be technical, the menu should read boudin klobasnek or klobasniki. Is this really important? I don’t think so.
So did we order either of these two? No. We went back to the Social Fixins and selected the Mac N Cheese made with sake and aged white cheddar. The menu indicated that the “fixins” were meant for two as did our server. And here is what is said at “Food is meant to be shared and passed around and let me warn you that the shared sides are HUGE! For those of you who complain about price and portion size in Lafayette, these sides are for you…. The mac and cheese was crack! I am very picky about my mac and cheese, and when I say this was good, this was GOOD! Some fell on the table and I am not ashamed to say I picked it up and wasted nothing.”
What made this so interesting to me is how the sweet undertones from the sake were a foil for the sharpness of the cheddar. Chuck and I managed to finish the bowl—along with our main choices—with no difficulty at all. (As I write this I am watching Bacon Paradise 2 on the Travel Channel and am so craving the praline bacon from French Press in Lafayette.)

As soon as I saw the menu on line, I knew what Chuck would order—the charcuterie plate. And I am sure that almost all—if not all—components were house-made. The tray contained (starting with top center) house-made mustard, smoked pork, a prosciutto-like ham, apple and onion jam, salami, ale cheese, bread and butter pickles, pickled okra, and Moroccan cheese.

And with the tray came a plate of toasted flatbread wedges. This was a wonderful mix of tastes and textures, but what stood out for both of us was the apple and onion jelly. It was so good that we used the leftover wonton chips from my lunch to dip into the jam.
I selected the Chilled Seafood Plate with house cured smoked salmon (center), poached shrimp, seared spiced tuna, edamame puree (the green stuff), and sriracha garbanzo bean puree. And my seafood plate came with the crispy fried wontons mentioned above.
The plate contained three beautifully poached jumbo shrimp, six nicely thin slices of seed-crusted tuna seared perfectly rare, and a very large piece of salmon. The purees were both good, but I especially liked the bright green taste of the edamame, which I thought went especially well with all three seafood items.

Like the “Fixins,” many of the desserts are meant to be shared. And I defy any one person to eat this Louisiana Berry Trifle by him/herself.
Blueberries were layered between tiers of syrup-soaked white cake and topped with ultra-rich and creamy whipped cream and then adorned with the same cookie crumbles that were sprinkled on the plate. The menu says that the desserts are “designed, freshly made and prepared by our in house Pastry Chef Amy Salsman, the ‘sweet tooth fairy’!”

All I can say about Social Southern Table & Bar and our 5.0 Addie meal is WOW! And the guy from The New York Times couldn’t find a memorable meal in Louisiana.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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