Monday, October 22, 2007

Woods on South impresses

Chef Marvin Woods stood in the entrance of Woods on South Saturday night. People in suits and cocktail dresses mingled with others sporting jeans and T-shirts. A line snaked from the buffet table and servers offered samples of lamb, chicken
wings and pizza.

Woods watched it all, hugged well-wishers and welcomed friends to the restaurant. He worked in this space in the late ’90s when it was Southend Brewery, which closed earlier this year; now the celebrity chef hopes to restore luster to the once-popular location.

The first signs of change are obvious. There’s new designer lighting, stonework, live plants and warmer hues. An awning covers the outdoor patio and a new wall on the right side of the restaurant makes the big room more intimate. There are seven flat-panel TVs.

All of that is cool, but the real question is whether the food and service will be better at Woods on South than it was at Southend Brewery in recent years. Both were so bad that I stopped eating there a couple of years ago and only visited for promoter parties.

Woods and manager Dave Matters say Woods on South will be better. The food is fun, light and energetic, Woods said. The restaurant’s vibe will be as well. The new menu features food grown locally. The beer is local, too. Carolina Beer & Beverage will brew at the restaurant.

Entrees range from $12-$30 with dishes such as fancy fried chicken (marinated in buttermilk) and crab stuffed flounder. There’s also wood oven pizza, such as one with rotisserie chicken and regianno cheese, and dessert, such as a sweet potato creme brulee. Appetizers range from red pepper and eggplant dip to soul sushi, which includes a collard green leaf.
The appetizers can be ordered in smaller portions. There will be live music on Fridays and Saturdays, and the restaurant is non-smoking. As of now, there are no plans for happy-hour specials.

I give them three months before they start offering $5 appetizer plates and drink specials during happy hour. There’s too much competition in this area not to.

Did you go to the parties this weekend? What did you think about the place? Post your replies below.