Pretty Southern

What does it mean to be a Southerner in the 21st century?

The Great Debate: White After Labor Day

Poor Little It Girl shows all white with white open toed shoes done right!

Poor Little It Girl shows all white with white open toed shoes done right!

Growing up, my mama taught me all the rules of being a Southern lady, including the fashion faux-pas to avoid. One point she emphasized often was to never wear white after Labor Day and before Easter; the same went for open-toed shoes. For me, white always symbolizes rebirth and new life, just like spring, so I did as I was taught and stored my white skinny jeans and sandals away after September.  When I spotted someone breaking the rule, I mentally wagged my finger.

One day last month, I spotted a girl walking around my campus wearing white dress pants and white open-toed shoes. In February. With twenty inches of snow on the ground. I couldn’t believe it. But bless her heart, she probably didn’t know better. (more…)

The Top 10 Atlanta Steakhouses

Steak in the broiler at New York Prime.

Steak in the broiler at New York Prime.

When it comes to fine dining in Atlanta, the classic steakhouse is in a category all its own. Atlanta is the Southeast’s mecca for delicious filet mignon thanks to local providers such as Buckhead Beef, Brasstown Beef, and a bevy of other sources for grass-fed beef from local farms.

Before we sit down to supper, here are just a few notes about how we made this list of our favorite Southern steaks:

  • Our top 10 steakhouses all have an Atlanta address which means no Alpharetta, Kennesaw, Marietta, Roswell, or any other steakhouse OTP (that’s “outside the perimeter” of 285) but we still love y’all too!
  • It’s really hard to choose the best, so we ranked our list in alphabetical order.

To kick off our list of the top 10 Atlanta steakhouses, here’s a quote from a famous Southern lady:

My father always said that Fondas can cry at a good steak.”
~ Jane Fonda

BLT Steak served with herb butter in a cast-iron pan.

BLT Steak served with herb butter in a cast-iron pan.

1. BLT Steak – Located inside the swanky W Atlanta-Downtown, its full name (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) is an homage to its founding partner, Chef Tourondel. BLT Steak “integrates traditional elements of the French bistro with an American steakhouse and combines its signature rich warmth and texture with the sophistication and style of Atlanta.”

2. Blue Ridge Grill – A sister restaurant of Bones (both are owned by Liberty House Restaurants) is a true staple in the Buckhead dining scene. The ambiance is inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia. Besides 5-star filets, Southern-inspired menu highlights include grilled Georgia Trout, skillet-seared mussels and a sumptuous corn soufflé.

3. Bones – Established in 1979, Bones celebrates it’s 35th anniversary this year. Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jim Carrey have dined at Bones. Ask your server to point out President Bill Clinton’s table, along with President Jimmy Carter’s table where he’s dined with his grandson Senator Jason Carter (who is now running for governor).

4. Chops – The flagship steakhouse of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. Chops was the premier steakhouse of Peachtree Street long before the St. Regis Atlanta opened its doors. The pepper steak is our favorite filet with a cracked peppercorn crust, brandy pepper sauce, mushrooms, port braised shallots, and potato confit. Pair it with a flash-fried lobster tail, served with honey mustard sauce and drawn butter, for a truly indulgent meal.

5. Hal’s on Old Ivy – nestled off a tiny road where Buckhead’s business district meets the neighborhood bar scene, Hal’s is the place as Jon Watson wrote for the AJC:

“Tables of cougars clinking wine glasses eyeball the young professional set jockeying to be the next batch of well-to-do regulars, and local celebrities and politicians routinely make appearances.”

6. Kevin Rathbun Steak – Mr. Rathbun helped parlay Atlanta fine dining to prominent stature. “Only one and a half block from Rathbun’s and Krog Bar, Kevin found an old cotton warehouse and turned it into one of the Top Steakhouses in The U.S. (Details Magazine).” Word to the wise when using GPS, don’t confuse Kevin Rathbun Steak with his newest establishment KR Steak Bar, which opened in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood in 2013.

A perfect medium rare filet at McKendrick's in Atlanta.

A perfect medium rare filet at McKendrick’s in Atlanta.

7. McKendrick’s – For nearly 20 years, McKendrick’s has gone above and beyond to provide stellar steaks and Southern hospitality. Executive chef Thomas Minchella regularly posts recipes to his blog, but dining at McKendrick’s is a true Atlanta steakhouse experience.

8. New York Prime – consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in Atlanta, New York Prime is right up there with the classics in Manhattan. The guys running this joint are some of the nicest damn yankees in the South.

9. Parker’s On Ponce - As Decatur’s only steakhouse, Parker’s was founded in 2008 by brothers John-Thomas and Christopher Scott. Parker’s is a welcome addition to historic Decatur, just four miles east of downtown Atlanta. There’s a ScoutMob for Parker’s for $20, which is almost a free steak! And unlike other steakhouses, Parker’s offers you a side item of your choice including broccoli, mashed potatoes, hash browns, or french fries. Now that’s Southern hospitality.

10. Prime – To round out our list of the top Atlanta steakhouses, we had to include our favorite restaurant at Lenox Mall. Prime is a steak + sushi concept redefining the idea of surf & turf. As part of the Here To Serve restaurant group, anyone with a Friend of Tom card enjoys 10% off their meal.

An honorable mention goes to New York Butcher Shoppe for being the best retailer of prime filets in Atlanta, and across the South. For steakhouse quality steaks made at home on your grill, visit a location near you.

So what did y’all think of our Top 10 Atlanta Steakhouses? Let us know in the Comments below.

4 Steps to a Pretty Southern Home

A lovely Southern living room. Pour some sweet tea, or a glass of wine, and settle into a comfy chair!

A lovely Southern living room with a bright, neutral palette with lots of charm.

The endearing traits of Southern hospitality are warmth, kindness, politeness and sophistication. Homeowners anywhere in the South, or across the Mason Dixon line, can incorporate the Southern feel into their interior designs by mixing old with new and teaming neutral tones with rustic textures. A home can embody these graceful and charming Southern qualities without a complete interior overhaul.

It’s simple to create personal, functional spaces infused with Southern sensibility. Here are four steps to achieve the relaxed elegance of this distinct brand of hospitality. Here are our 4 Steps to a Traditionally Styled Southern Home

A beautiful sitting area designed by Southern Color.

A beautiful sitting area designed by Southern Color.

1. Combine New With Old
Southern styling is a balancing act of blending contemporary design with traditional pieces to create timeless elegance. Team new furnishings with vintage, antique and unique objects for a functional, clean finish with a sense of old time character. Reupholster an antique sofa and pair it with a contemporary glass-topped coffee table and soft-lit lamp. Be careful to maintain a sophisticated look, not too masculine or feminine.

A home office makeover by Southern Color.

A home office makeover by Southern Color.

 
 
2. Carefully Select Colors and Textures
When selecting a color palette and furnishings, strive for a lived-in look with high-quality features. Southern designs include wood flooring, light drapery, textured fabrics and inviting prints. Optimal wall colors consist of muted hues and neutral tones that compliment organic materials such as timber, pine and wrought iron. Throwback varied textures add warmth, such as canvas, velvet, linen and burlap.

The ladies at Southern Color did an amazing job with this guest room makeover!

The ladies at Southern Color did an amazing job paying attention to details with their guest room makeover!

 
3. Pay Attention to the Details
Accessories contribute to a home’s charm and character. For a Southern kitchen design, update cupboards with wrought iron or brass handles and include wooden stools, benches or woven chairs with textured cushions. Such rustic elements combined with stone countertops are the perfect synthesis of new and old. Add traditional style to bathrooms by hanging vintage art. Chalkboard paint can transform bland doors and bare walls, and are especially treasured in kids’ rooms. Dress up living and dining rooms with dramatic light fixtures including chandeliers, iron lanterns and antique mismatched lamps. Smaller accessories such as vintage books, eclectic vases, printed rugs and leather ottomans add to the old-fashioned feel and work well with other neutral hues.

An open floor plan in this Southern home includes the family room with a big kitchen and cozy eating area.

An open floor plan in this Southern home includes the family room with a big kitchen and cozy eating area.

 
4. Decorate Consistently Throughout
There is nothing dark or mysterious about Southern styling; living spaces should be open, airy and consistent. Visitors should feel like they are floating from room to room with ease. Select fewer than average furniture pieces that are large in scale to create a cozy yet relaxed environment. Add mirrors for the illusion of expanded space and take advantage of the natural light from windows and doors.

A Southern designed home should be a mix of classic and contemporary styles that blend seamlessly for a timeless look and feel. Whether searching for home, redecorating a home or settling into a new home, incorporate the themes of Southern hospitality to create a welcoming and comfortable home.

Our Top 10 Picks for 2014 Oscar Dresses

Like the rest of America, we were looking forward to watching the parade of beautiful gowns at the 2014 Oscars. We put together a quick look book at our favorite pretty dresses on this year’s red carpet. Here are our nominees for the top 10 prettiest Oscar dresses. What are your thoughts? Who were your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below!

Lupita Nyong'o is perfect in a pale blue Prada.

Lupita Nyong’o is perfect in Prada.
We were hoping she’d pick blue!


Jessica Biel a.k.a. Mrs. Justin Timberlake.

Jessica Biel (Mrs. Justin Timberlake) shimmering in Chanel.


Deying gravity, Sandra Bullock is brilliant in blue Alexander McQueen.

Deying gravity, Sandra Bullock is brilliant in blue Alexander McQueen.


Mama mia! Kerry Washington in Jason Wu.

Kerry Washington in
Jason Wu. Mama mia!


Jenna Dewan-Tatum in Reem Acra. Gosh we hop Channing zipped her up!

Jenna Dewan-Tatum in Reem Acra. We hope Channing zipped her up!


Our favorite Southern lady, Julia Roberts, in Givenchy. Girl, please!

Our favorite Southern lady, Julia Roberts, in gorgeous Givenchy!


Jennifer Lawrence rocking a red Dior.

Jennifer Lawrence rocking a red Dior.


Amy Adams is simply divine in a slender Gucci silhouette.

Amy Adams is simply divine in a slender Gucci silhouette.


Kristen Bell in Roberto Cavalli looks every bit a Disney princess.

Kristen Bell in Roberto Cavalli looks every bit a Disney princess.


Kate Hudson in Versace  is the epitome of Hollywood glamour.

Kate Hudson in Versace is the epitome of Hollywood glamour.

Lighten Up Supper – Shrimp with Avocado, Mango, & Tomato Salsa

Shrimp with fresh avocado & mango salsa.

Shrimp with fresh avocado & mango salsa.

This delightful was inspired by a Pinterest recipe we found from Self magazine. We kept it simple with just a few ingredients, making this an easy meal any time of year.

1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 medium avocado, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 fresh limes

The components for avocado & mango salsa.

The components for avocado & mango salsa.

Combine shrimp, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil, garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl. Toss well, then add in the juice of 1 lime. Toss again, then cover and let marinate for 1 hour. Combine remaining 1/4 cup cilantro with remaining 1/4 tsp salt, mango, avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeño and juice from lime #2 in a bowl. Skewer shrimp, and grill for 90 seconds on each side (3 minutes total) or sauté in a pan with a bit of non stick cooking spray. Serve atop your delicious, fresh salsa. This dinner is perfect for either two people or to take as leftovers for lunch (served over a bed of fresh lettuce for a tasty salad).