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Southern Fresh

October 12, 2016 , In: Tasty , With: No Comments
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Laura had been whispering in my ear for a few months now, bragging about a restaurant in Safety Harbor I hadn’t been to yet (owned by a Safety Harbor native, no less.)  She said it had incredible fried chicken that everyone raved about and that when she’d gone with friends last year they’d all loved it.  The name?  Southern Fresh.

Eventually, I couldn’t stand it any longer and bumped it to the front of the list of places we had to visit.  It was great timing, too, as that was the day the temperature took an ever so slight dip, making the stroll around Safety Harbor especially pleasant.  When we arrived, the restaurant stood out to me as a place I would definitely like to frequent on a mild day, with an expansive wooden deck flush with benches, tables, chairs, and even a free standing fire pit for those cooler months.  Country music drifted quietly over the air, people sat with their dogs by their sides, and a breeze ruffled the leaves of nearby trees every once in a while.  The inside was quite nice, too, with its Safety Harbor spin on southern charm, but the day was just so perfect we had to enjoy it with our meal.

Was the food good?  Could it live up to the hype?  In a southern word: yup.  Southern Fresh uses southern flavors, but they put their own spin on things.  Each piece of chicken is lovingly made to order, so you do img_2721have to wait for it to be cooked, but it’s really not as long as you might expect, roughly 15-20 minutes only, and it comes out so fresh!  If you’ve ever had fried chicken from the deep south, you’ll know the flavor profile, the batter being full of herbs and spices (each southern cook keeps their own hidden ratios.)  And while a lot of southern chefs deep fry their chicken, these guys are among those that pan fry it instead, so it gives it a different texture and reduces the inherent greasiness, though keeping the juiciness.  The skin is golden and crispy, with the fat underneath rendered into a luscious serum that tantalizes the tongue with each bite.  Out of all the fried chicken I’ve had in my travels across the U.S., this has to rank in the top three, with a good argument for it being numero uno!  The vegetables on my plate, all locally sourced, were nicely cooked, the squash, peppers, onions, brussel sprouts, zucchini, and carrots in that perfect mid range of doneness with a faint char to some of the edges.  The green beans on Laura’s plate had bacon in them.  The mashed potatoes were delicious, being liberally speckled with black pepper and having a creaminess that bespoke of being hand whipped, not of premade or boxed taters.  A southern brown gravy, with that hint of dark flavor stemming from liver, can be ordered on the side so you can add as you like to the mash (I wound up leaving mine naked, so to speak, as the potatoes were just perfect in their own right.)

I would recommend this restaurant to anyone in a heartbeat that enjoys southern fare.  Southern Fresh has their act together, with friendly service, dynamic food, and an utterly relaxing atmosphere.  But don’t take my word for it, try it out yourself.  You’ll join their cult following.  Oh, yes, you will….

 

Southern Fresh

122 3rd Avenue North

Safety Harbor, FL 34695

Matt Burns
Matthew is a Massachusetts native who has lived most of his life in Florida. He has travelled extensively throughout the U.S., eating every step of the way, and has gone abroad, sampling international food at its source, including Belgian waffles in Belgium, Zapiekanka (Polish pizza on French bread) and homemade pierogis in Poland, and conch fritters and guava duff in the Bahamas. He undertook a cooking class with the executive chef of a resort in Cozumel, Mexico making tortillas from scratch by hand, creating a rice and raisin dish, and practicing plating and decoration, has taken two chocolate making classes in Port Richey, FL at Chocolates By Michelle (he highly recommends this to anyone who likes sweets, and especially to couples for a fun date,) and attended one chocolate making class in Belgium making those world famous Belgian chocolates. He has been a part of GTE Financial for over 5 years and is currently working Onscreen with GTE’s incredibly successful new Interactive Teller Machines.

Matthew moved to Tampa in 1995 and began exploring its culinary hot spots. Along with his wife, Laura, he has eaten his way through a large portion of the greater Tampa Bay area, emptying plates in both popular venues and those hard to find, under the radar locales. These two are avid fans of Food Network and the Travel Channel and combine the knowledge they gain from those programs with their personal experiences to bring you a few must try delights. Look for their weekly food blog on Wednesdays for a tip on a new spot to try for the weekend or a reminder of a place you may want to visit again.
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Matt Burns
Matthew is a Massachusetts native who has lived most of his life in Florida. He has travelled extensively throughout the U.S., eating every step of the way, and has gone abroad, sampling international food at its source, including Belgian waffles in Belgium, Zapiekanka (Polish pizza on French bread) and homemade pierogis in Poland, and conch fritters and guava duff in the Bahamas. He undertook a cooking class with the executive chef of a resort in Cozumel, Mexico making tortillas from scratch by hand, creating a rice and raisin dish, and practicing plating and decoration, has taken two chocolate making classes in Port Richey, FL at Chocolates By Michelle (he highly recommends this to anyone who likes sweets, and especially to couples for a fun date,) and attended one chocolate making class in Belgium making those world famous Belgian chocolates. He has been a part of GTE Financial for over 5 years and is currently working Onscreen with GTE’s incredibly successful new Interactive Teller Machines.

Matthew moved to Tampa in 1995 and began exploring its culinary hot spots. Along with his wife, Laura, he has eaten his way through a large portion of the greater Tampa Bay area, emptying plates in both popular venues and those hard to find, under the radar locales. These two are avid fans of Food Network and the Travel Channel and combine the knowledge they gain from those programs with their personal experiences to bring you a few must try delights. Look for their weekly food blog on Wednesdays for a tip on a new spot to try for the weekend or a reminder of a place you may want to visit again.