The Southern Belle took over the space vacated by Montclair’s Table 8 and the two restaurants couldn’t be more different. Table 8 was a place I would go with the grown-ups – a special dinner with the man, or another couple. The Southern Belle with its wallet-friendly kids menu ($5 for a generous meal — the BBQ pork sliders, pictured, mashed potatoes and drink my daughter could barely finish, were happily scarfed down by mom and dad) and cheery, low-key decor (wicker chairs, hanging flower baskets) doesn’t put on any fancy airs. What it does put out is plate after plate of welcome comfort food. Think fall-off-the-bone-tender baby back ribs or crispy fried chicken, either solo or if you want to gild the lily, over a freshly turned out waffle (syrup on the side). We tried and loved both dishes, as well as the fried green tomato starter served with nicely spiced Cajun remoulade sauce. Mac and cheese, collard greens, hush puppies, seafood gumbo are also on the menu, as well as a herb roasted 1/2 chicken — if you want your comfort sans extra calories.
If you like your chocolate rich, try the heirloom cake for dessert or you could always have a waffle with ice cream, apple crisp or chocolate pecan pie. Unless it’s your favorite kind of comfort food, the one side I’d skip is the green bean casserole with crunchy onions (maybe it’s the Mediterranean in me, but I’ve never quite understood the appeal of this dish). Bring the family (some of the other Baristas have been back now for seconds and thirds) or go with friends and enjoy the cozy hospitality of the South, without the road trip.
The Southern Belle
615 Bloomfield Ave.