Due South Bats .500 with Southern Staples
Due South, 301 Water St. SE in The Yards’ Lumber Shed development along the Capital Riverfront near Nationals Park, serves a Southern-inspired menu with in-house smoked meats.
The 100-seat restaurant (which has another 85 seats on the outdoor patio along both outside walls) from Bo Blair’s Georgetown Events, which also operates Jetties, Surfside, Bayou and Smith Point as well as the Half Street Fairgrounds and The Bullpen outside the baseball stadium, opened just over a year ago in August 2015. It joins Agua 301, Osteria Morini, Ice Cream Jubilee and Whaley’s in the two-story iconic glass structure that has an open, airy feeling. Old barn wood, black and white floor tiles, touches of blue, dark wood floors, brown leather banquettes and chandeliers made from rope, bushel baskets and Edison bulbs add waterfront charm.
Executive chef and partner Rusty Holman, who also helms the kitchen at the New Orleans-style Bayou, serves classics like shrimp and grits or blackened catfish and puts a twist on others like his tasty squash puppies made from shredded yellow summer squash and served with a roasted jalapeño aioli and the lima bean hummus with heirloom tomatoes served with vegetable crudité and toasted country bread. The hot crab dip with vegetable crudité and toasted country bread, and the pimento cheese spread also with vegetable crudité and toasted country bread (are we starting to see a pattern here?) are also very good.
For the most part, the food was good, but some of the Southern staples fall short. The corn bread with molasses rosemary butter is a bit on the dry side. And while the pride of Holman’s kitchen may be the custom-made $35,000 smoker from Texas that uses hickoy wood, the smoke flavor overpowered the dry rub wings. Even the tasty Alabama white sauce — a mayonnaise-based barbecue sauce – can’t tame that smoky flavor. The same goes for the St. Louis-style pork ribs, which were short on meat and long on bone for $35 a rack. The sides – creamy coleslaw and spicy red beans with Tasso ham – were also disappointing.
The 12-hour hickory smoked Texas-style brisket on the other had was tender and tasty. And the bacon braised collard greens that came with it was the best I’ve ever had with just the right amount of vinegar and not a single bite was tough or stringy. The mac and cheese side, however, left something to be desired since it wasn’t very cheesy tasting.
The bar has 13 beers on tap including some Southern brews like Abita, Shiner and Terrapin along with a Due South-branded lager and IPA along with others in bottles and cans. It also has Abita draft root beer on tap. The bar serves about 80 bourbons as well as cocktails like a Georgia Julep with peach vodka and a bloody mary with pickled okra, spicy string beans and pimento-stuffed olive.
Appetizers for the table run from $8-$15, soups and salads are priced from $4-$15, mains cost from $15-$35, sides run from $4-$8 and desserts are $8. Due South is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Lunch is served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends and dinner after 4 p.m.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.