As we sang the final hymn of the Easter Day service at R.E. Lee Episcopal Church, my stomach growled once more, reminding me of the intense hunger I had been enduring throughout the past hour and 45 minutes. Once the final church bell rang, my siblings and I raced out, rapidly shook hands with the acolytes, and made our way to the sidewalk beside the massive wooden doors of R.E. Lee. When my parents finally arrived, we began our one block trek. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it all the way to the restaurant, because it was nearly 12:30, and I had yet to consume an ounce of food all day.
This was the second Easter brunch my family spent at The Southern Inn. My brother, Reeves Surgner (‘14), is a sophomore at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, so my family and I find ourselves in Lexington a couple of times each year. Our experience last year was so satisfying that we decided to visit Reeves once again this Easter.
When we made it to our table, we were greeted by a fresh white table cloth, perfectly folded napkins, and impeccably clean silverware. I sat down as a frazzled yet friendly waitress poured me a tall glass of delicious mint water. I wouldn’t typically expect or request mint water; however, it was a pleasant change. The first swig of water revived me enough to flip the pages of the clip-board menu and gaze at all the varied choices before me.
The first page lists breakfast options: Steak and Eggs, French toast and fruit, a fluffy sundried tomato, spinach omelet… All the scrumptious classics that meet the needs of brunch diners both young and old. The lunch menu is just as impressive. It is composed of a long list of appetizers, hearty sandwich options for those in need of major sustenance, salads both light and robust for both the health nuts and the hungrier health nuts, and a few of The Southern Inn’s most classic and requested entreés.
My family started with two appetizers: The Homemade Spring Rolls served with Sweet and Sour Sauce and the Fried Pimento Cheese With Skillet Cornbread and Red Pepper Jelly. The satisfying crunch of the flaky outer crust and the sweet and tangy slaw within paired perfectly with the sesame sweet and sour sauce beneath the rolls. I found myself eating three of the spring rolls before I even touched the pimento. I am difficult to please when it comes to pimento. However, this was truly delectable. I cut a piece off of the small wheel of fried goodness. It oozed over the edge of the cornbread as I put a small spoon of the red pepper jelly atop it. The bite was incredibly hot, but it was a magnificent mix of textures and flavors.
Last year, I ordered the French toast for Easter brunch, so I decided it would be wise to try something from the lunch menu instead. I was still famished after eating a hearty helping of appetizers, so I went big and classic and ordered The Southern Inn hamburger with cheddar cheese, bacon, and mushrooms with a side of french fries. I am a definite burger fan, so my expectations and hopes for this burger were very high.
When the food arrived, my burger was placed before me, and I instantly began to indulge in the french fries that were daintily placed in a silver cup beside the burger. When I first picked up the burger, I was impressed by its thickness. I immediately devoured the first half. The fresh tomato pleasantly surprised me. The beef was also so juicy and flavorful, I could have consumed it by itself. I was pleased with this choice. However, I was mesmerized by the other food around my table. I tried a bit of my younger brother’s omelet with cheddar and bacon; it was classic yet delicious. The ratio of cheese to bacon was on par, and the fluffy egg surrounding the goodies was so light and delicious and beautifully yellow. I then tried a bite of my dad’s beet salad. The fresh greens, spicy arugula, and light spinach paired well with the unmistakable taste of the beet. Finally, I tried a bite of my sister’s mashed potatoes. When I tried a bite, I was caught off guard by their smooth, buttery taste. They were some of the most flavorful mashed potatoes I have ever consumed.
After trying my family’s meal, I finished my own leaving behind nothing except a wadded up napkin and a silver cup with a few french fry crumbs. I sat, sipping my mint water as my father paid the bill, feeling a bit nauseous at the thought of dessert. However, I know that if I had ordered something off of that dessert menu, it would have undoubtedly been the Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée. I saw a woman enjoying a créme brûlée as I walked to my seat and intended to get one. However, I was too full; I just couldn’t. I enjoyed the lively, bright atmosphere, and the appetizers and main courses were both incredibly delicious. I left The Southern Inn without a single complaint. Perhaps I will find myself in Lexington again in the future, finally enjoying that créme brûlée and a glass of mint water.