| DATE NIGHT | Get In The (South) House, Y'all

The DATE NIGHT series on BURBS + a BBQ spotlights local restaurants and adult playtime activities for those fleeting but important couples-only nights. Next up in the series is South House JC on the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall in downtown Jersey City. As with the last DATE NIGHT post, please forgive the iPhone-quality photos that capture this experience. The lighting in South House is sen-su-al, and so everything from people to food to decor looks rouge. I mean, sexy.

I've had a lot of south(ern food) in my mouth.

My daddy learned how to cook from his southern mama. He was born in Alabama but moved to New Brunswick when he was seven, so technically -- if you ask me -- he's a Jersey boy. But his parents are from Alabama and Tennessee, and all of his extended family remain south of the Mason Dixon line, so he most strongly identifies with his southern heritage.

Though raised in Vermont, I chose -- for a reason I, to this day, cannot remember -- to attend the University of Alabama in my father's birthplace of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Maybe for its business school (though I quickly transferred out to journalism and later to public relations and communications). Maybe for its intoxicatingly gorgeous ivy and brick-covered grounds that looked like a storybook "college campus." Maybe because it was so damn cheap -- considerably cheaper than my in-state option. The last of the maybes would be due to my heritage. Nevertheless, down I went and I learned countless cultural lessons that I will carry with me forever, and wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Nor would I trade the lifetime's worth of the barbecue and southern food I consumed. The foundation for my love of the buttery, the sweet, and the fried was really set as a child. But it continued (and intensified) in my college years in the tiny rocking-chair-on-the-porch down home cafes where the "Freshman 15" doubled (at least). It took a year after I graduated to ween myself from sweet tea and biscuits, and the opportunities to indulge since returning north are few and far between.

When I heard that southern food was coming to Jersey City, I was ecstatic.

Unfortunately, while I constantly ordered take-out in the final couple weeks of July, we didn't actually go out to eat much. We were preparing and "packing" (meaning staring at boxes and piles of stuff in bewilderment and frustration).

So when Marinell and Chadner of EIGHTY Magazine asked me to go out before my family left town, I jumped at the chance to ditch my fourteen-day-old homeless chic attire and have an adult beverage. Plus, when Jersey City's biggest fans invite you out, you hustle down. I over-eagerly sent Marinell a list of every restaurant and establishment in Jersey City that I had not yet tried, but wanted to.

"Let's try the new kid in town," she said. South House it was.

I was psyched. I packed rather frenetically that day in anticipation of mama's two hours out that night. I put on not-sweat-pants and headed downtown. Since I didn't hit the streets much in July -- and when I did, I was sprinting from here to there, and picking up this and that, not noticing anything much around me -- I hadn't noticed the darling rocking chairs in front of the saucy exterior of South House. When in Rome...

We went for an early dins, so we were among the first in the joint, but not for long. I was thankful for my company so I could unabashedly snap photos of the amazing decor without explaining myself.

I mean, even the bathroom at South House is adorbs.

And I only went to the bathroom so I could take a photo of the chandelier over the back door. I mean, c'mon, the details in here.

We got straight down to business upon arrival, by which I mean we ordered cocktails post haste. I thought I would go Old Fashioned, but I got the "Dirty Sixth," both because it was called the "Dirty Sixth" and because it married blueberries and rum. Although it had never dawned on me before, blueberries and rum were born to be mashed and splashed together in a cocktail glass. It was a sweetie, but it was deliciousness incarnate. Chadner got something yummy too, whose name I cannot remember, but frankly all of the cocktails sounded good.

With our booze locked down, we turned our attention to the food. We started with the Craft Beer Battered Fried Pickles (though they arrived after our entrees), which were crispy and crunchy on the outside with a familiar interior. I maybe ate a few too many of those. Oops. Note to any preggo's out there: this appetizer would be a dream.

Chadner and I did not hesitate or mess around with our entrees, either. We ordered the BBQ Pulled Pork with Mac'n'Cheese. Just like a plate of southern goodness is 'sposed to be. Marinell chose the South House Salad (roasted diced sweet potatoes, mesclun greens, grape tomatoes and gorgonzola cheese) and topped it with pulled pork and let me tell you: had I not been hell-bent on bad behavior, I dare say she made the better choice. It looked really, really amazing. As were our sandwiches and mac'n'cheese, though. Nothing went to waste.

At this point, some pain set in from all I had stuffed into my poor, already in bad shape belly. Thankfully it settled as Marinell, Chadner and I chatted, and caught up, and talked about our future adventures. I just adore those two and can't wait to see what the future brings for their stunning magazine. Look at what they've done already, and it's only issue three (well, soon to be)!

Remember what I said about the red hue in the resto!?
Remember what I said about the red hue in the resto!?

South House JC was the perfect backdrop for our farewell feast and had my family stayed in Jersey City longer, I know it would've been a staple on 'cheat day.' Because, southern food. In Jersey City. Judging by the crowd when we left, I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Stalk those rocking chairs on the interwebs:

P.S. If I go on a Date Night with EIGHTY Magazine, is it a DATE-TY or a DEIGHTY? I need to know.