I admit that my only encounter with authentic Southern food took place at a Waffle House in Gainesville, Florida (I had raisin toast and "smothered" hash browns). I live in a state of complete ignorance regarding the way fried chicken, collard greens, and grits are supposed to taste—I'm actually not quite sure what a "grit" is. However, I do recall the South being full of fat people, leading me to conclude that the Screen Door's meat-heavy, butter-saturated menu must be pretty damn authentic.
Do not, however, allow petty dietary concerns to deter you from checking out this delicious new addition to E Burnside's ever-burgeoning restaurant scene. The Screen Door may go heavy on the comfort food, but it's worth every calorie—and their emphasis on fresh, local ingredients means that even a vegetarian on a diet will be able to find some solace in this menu (vegans, though, are mostly shit outta luck).
A good introduction to the Screen Door is their weekend brunch. If the crab benedict is on the specials board, order it: I've had this dish several times, and each time I've been seriously impressed. Meats are smoked in house, so it's worth springing for that side of bacon or sausage—and the sausage is the real deal, not like the desiccated tubes of gristle that some breakfast joints pass off as meat. Other breakfast options include oatmeal, biscuits and gravy (available with veggie gravy), cheddar grits with ham and provolone or veggies, and a divine-sounding vanilla-bean French toast.
For dinner, the Screen Door unrolls the full lineup of Southern classics: hushpuppies, fried green tomatoes, collard greens, and more. My boyfriend described the fried chicken as "the food equivalent of an enormous pile of cocaine"; if that equivalency doesn't work for you, just imagine the tenderest, moistest chicken ever, covered in a crispy, salty buttermilk batter. One night, I had the Screen Door Plate, comprised of side dishes and selections from the "local/organics" section of the menu, which offers a rotating lineup of fresh produce. This option is a good way to put together a lighter meal; I had mashed sweet potatoes (delicious), melon with basil and sea salt (stunningly fresh), and a dish of sweet corn, small tomatoes, and basil (simple, but remarkably good). On a return visit, the pulled pork sandwich was a resounding success, but the red beans and rice were surprisingly bland. Desserts were killer, though, especially the chocolate pot de crème, which can be described as slightly more delicious than the best pudding you've ever eaten.
The Screen Door is also a pretty great place to drink. The cocktail menu offers a nice mixture of classics (they do a mint julep and a Sazerac) and inventive house drinks: don't miss the Porch Swing Lemonade, comprised of vodka and lemonade muddled with fresh sage.
The Screen Door may be a little on the pricey side (brunch is standard, but dinner for two with drinks, apps, and dessert will run you about $60), but then again, portions are big, ingredients are obviously selected with serious love and care, and the service is consistently quick and friendly. The Screen Door seems destined to become a neighborhood favorite—I only hope the lines for brunch don't get too long.