Scenes from my childhood bedroom: an old cowboy hat tacked onto the wall. The white wooden bookshelf and dresser – “rustic” and “distressed” are words my mother would use to describe them – overflowing with books, model horses and blue ribbons won in riding competitions. This darling blue French toile.
So I feel right at home at Sissy’s Southern Kitchen, where the vibe is slightly more sophisticated and all the more bucolic, from the stunning marble and walnut bar to the cozy parlor with velvet and leather armchairs. It’s so easy to sit lazily sipping cocktails on the screened porch, picket-fence white and complete with a sunny yellow screen door.
The jalapeño margarita was one of the more distinctly Southwestern flavors. A pink-hued, so-called margarita topped with a purple hibiscus flower and a thin slice of pepper. Every sip proved itself, starting floral, lollygagging in tequila and finishing with a bite of jalapeño.
The fried squash hush puppies were begging to be dunked in the sweet jalapeño jelly and honey butter. A pecan-crusted trout comes nestled in a patch of lima beans – which I have always loved – and black eyed peas.
But the lavish cocktails and appetizers are accompaniments to what is essentially, inevitably, a bucket of chicken, although the menu offers a full range of other down-home dishes inspired by old-fashioned Mississippi Delta cuisine.
A waiter uniformed in white and a bowtie delivers to our table a very rustic metal pail, lined with parchment paper and filled to the brim with crispy, caramel-colored fried chicken. Bring out the china and mismatched vintage silver, and maybe tuck a towel into your shirt collar while you’re at it.
Sissy’s buttermilk spiced fried chicken is a dish best served with shiny, pinch-sized spoonfuls of Texas hot sauce. The side of mustard-apple cider vinegar cole slaw is hard core.
We Texans love a good pecan. It’s the state nut, the state tree, and the state pie. As someone who’s harvested pecans from an orchard, exploited my horse to haul them home, then hand-cracked them from their shells with a nutcracker and inspected each to make sure they weren’t rancid, I consider myself somewhat of a pecan enthusiast.
A good slice of pecan pie, like Sissy’s or Emporium Pies’, has notes of wood and of caramelized nuts, and melts on the plate with sticky bourbon-brown sugar syrup. There’s also coconut pie and chess pie and key lime pie, in case you have a nut allergy or something.
For true Southern cooking and comfort, pine for Sissy’s.
Sissy’s Southern Kitchen
2929 North Henderson Avenue
Dallas, TX 75206