Pollen in the air? Bright sunshine? Occasional and sudden severe weather? That’s right, spring has begun in the Pine Belt.
The Food with Friends crew recently had the joy of spending a sunny afternoon together with Art of Roux, a food truck run by Kyle Bass whose current home is at Southern Prohibition Brewery in downtown Hattiesburg. Southern Prohibition has been a favorite hangout for me since 2013 when they first opened. From its early days of brewery tours and getting sample pours in exchange for wooden tokens all the way to now — with its wonderful outdoor area to go along with its casual indoor seating and a plush lounge area — it’s somewhere I end up almost every weekend for some really good reasons: quality people, great beer and delicious food.
I’m not sure if it was the weather, but we all agreed it was a plus one kind of day. I was joined by my lovely husband Jessie Vasser. Allison Neville brought along local stained-glass artist and husband Kyle Baughman. Jamie Massengale was joined by fellow Hardy Street Boyz podcaster and drummer extraordinaire Drew Wooten.
Evan was flying solo because his son Calvin was at home with mother and Southern Prohibition manager Emily Curry. And of course, our ruggedly handsome photographer sidekick, Rob Walker, was along for the ride.
While we waited on our food and got settled in, we all made our choices at the bar. The beer selection at Southern Prohibition has something for everyone. For beer beginners, try their classics like SoPro Light or Suzy B. Both are absolutely crushable beers that I could spend all day next to a pool drinking. For fans of sours, Pink Fluff and Sherbert Sherpa were our crew’s favorites for the day.
For sour fans who like it extra tart, try the Pineapple Lime Sherpa, my husband’s favorite. It’s like drinking a Sour Patch Kid smoothie. Southern Prohibition has been killing the sour game for quite some time. But don’t miss out on their Bo Knows Pilsner, either.
For people wanting to try a lot of things, I suggest a flight to get the best bang for your buck and try everything you’re interested in. The knowledgeable staff is great at suggesting based off of things you already like even if you’re not a “beer person.” You’re free to pick out your flight or give them feedback and let them pick for you. So, whether you like Michelob Ultra or you’re a total IPA snob, they have something for you.
After we were all settled in with some starting beers from the bar, Kyle with Art of Roux began to serve us. Our opening course was some hearty Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo followed by Red Beans and Rice with andouille sausage. Both were served over white rice with a scoop of cornbread to top it off. The cornbread was dense and cakey, just a little sweet in comparison to the savory of both dishes. The sage-like taste of the gumbo mixed with the cornbread and rice was like a big bowl of Thanksgiving flavors. And the red beans and rice was marvelous, not too heavy but definitely enough to fill you up. It’s light on the spice, but they will gladly provide you with the Louisiana Hot Sauce if you’re one of those people who can’t do red beans without it.
Next up we had the Chili Cheese Tots, which I imagine would be even better after a few beers or even when you’re trying to recover from a few. They’re crispy tots topped off with chili, melted cheese, a dollop of sour cream and some pickled jalapenos for a little bit of kick. I’m very critical of a tater tot, but these were cooked just right: crispy, crunchy and hot.
Those familiar with me know one of my biggest flaws is that I’m not a seafood fan, and the Blackened Catfish Sandwich had me regretting my dislikes. Jamie said that the blackened seasoning was perfect, and it was delicious.
Jessie enjoyed the fact that the catfish was blackened instead of fried. It gave the fish a nice crust that made it almost seem like the fish was fried but without the batter. The slaw on top of the catfish was great: tangy, creamy and crunchy to contrast with the delicious fish. Allison said the bun was perfect, soft in the middle and crispy on the outside.
I will say that the star of our lunch was the Fancy Burger, consisting of “fancy” burger sauce, American cheese, cooked onions and their house (or should I say, truck?) made pickles. When you think burger, this is what you imagine: gooey cheese, soft bun, crunchy pickles. The pickles really set this off. It’s like a Krystal burger on steroids, the kind of burger that makes you want to immediately order another one.
The Fancy Burger did have some stiff competition, though. Their Chili Cheese Burger is Americana perfected.
Their ode to Ward’s, it is a perfect juicy patty topped with chili, American cheese, onions, pickles and mustard. It takes a perfect burger and adds chili.
What more could you need? It’s not overly sloppy but probably best handled with a fork and knife so you ensure you get maximum chili coverage in each bite. And again, the pickles just take it above and beyond.
After a marvelous lunch — beers, burgers and red beans — it was time to say goodbye. We highly suggest you try out the ever-changing Art of Roux and Southern Prohibition menus.
As Allison put it, “all of the food was great, of course; we already expect that from Kyle.” Pair it with great beer brewed on site, and you have the recipe for a great meal shared with friends. I foresee many future visits to the flavor double whammy that is Southern Prohibition and Art of Roux.