Colman and Nancy Goodrich bring decades of hospitality experience to Southern Bistro, producing comfort food that is locally sourced and aligned with its regional roots. “Bistro” implies a relaxed Parisian cafe styled with a variety of menu choices, plus hot and cold drinks. The Goodriches set up a convivial atmosphere with a rotating menu subbing the French cliché for their niche in the Southern culinary arts.
Nancy from the eponymous Nancy G’s formerly located at Chastain Square, and Colman from BrickTop’s and Houston’s.
Colman laughs when asked about his partnership with Nancy, “She’s living her forever high school dream of running a restaurant. She’s really the entrepreneur, the driving force and face of the restaurant. With a division of duties, I do the administrative work and Nancy runs the place. You could say I’m the ‘gofer.’”
Colman hails from Milledgeville. He shares, “Maybe there were 10 Jewish families in Milledgeville, half of which were us Goodriches. Here now, we see a lot of Jewish patrons and are exploring adding matzah balls as a special for [holidays].”
Southern Bistro is a cross between a neighborhood favorite and a Southern- inspired curated experience. The clever part is being kid-friendly while serving a well-prepared chef-driven menu. The dog patio during good weather (and now with heaters) is legendary; even during social distancing it seats 40. Another 40 (humans) dine inside with “COVID” spacing. The brilliant Doggie Menu (from $4 to $6) includes choice of bowls – rice, grilled chicken or bacon. Bones are complimentary. And what a clever idea to allow guests to host dog birthday parties! The Kid’s Menu has beaucoups de choices: pancakes, burgers, grilled cheese, French toast, fries and ice cream.
In terms of navigating COVID, Nancy said, “We created a general store where we offered everything from burgers, bread, eggs and toilet paper.”
Chef-partner Justin Keith and executive sous chef Ben Castro “organized the ToGo process as we were forced to close to Dine In during March, April and May. The neighborhood supported us throughout this time and as we opened back up with a limited menu,” Nancy said.
“Then DineIn opened back up.” Keith and Castro “added new items for our summer and fall menus.”
What we sampled:
Cucumber-Dill Salad – Tart and zingy vegetables had sufficient time to marinate.
Top choice/star power: House Cured Salmon – Thick slices over plump, firm capers, mouth-puckering pickled red onions, crumbled egg, toast triangles. Goat cheese versus traditional cream cheese was a flavorful option. Not being salty was equally refreshing.
The Elijay Salad – Georgia apple slices, candied spiced pecans with dense and clean spinach leaves, grilled onions. The apple cider molasses vinaigrette dressing made for a complex taste.
Brussels Sprouts – Seems to be the new requisite on many menus. Southern Bistro did this just right, not overly salted or gooey in syrup. Real crunchy, firm and tight.
North Georgia Rainbow Trout – Two generous filets swam right in from a Blue Ridge brook alongside blistered red potatoes, green beans. Enough succulent fish for leftovers.
Blackened Fish Tacos – Pickled red cabbage, pico, cilantro on flour tortillas. The cabbage intensity is calmed by the cilantro.
These picked-up items were appropriately packed with a cold items bag presented separately from the warm items.
The Southern Bistro website has rotating specials that get gobbled up and specials by day.
This is the story of a couple who are “hands on” with experience and passion for the hospitality business.
Southern Bistro is located at 4920 Roswell Road.