On a recent trip to London I had the opportunity to eat…a lot. One dish I HAD to try while I was there were the fish and chips. Though it is served everywhere, it isn’t edible everywhere. So I stalked researched all the recommendations and ate more than my fair share but one stood above the rest. Drum roll please….
The restaurant had a diner feel with a comfy, no-frills atmosphere. The menu was what you would expect: fish and chips. What I wasn’t expecting were the choices. You could order cod or haddock and have it fried or steamed. They also offered cod fishcakes, salmon, plaice and skate. (more…)
I had the pleasure of spending Christmas in Florence, Italy. There is truly no place else in the world like it. The sights, the people, and THE FOOD. When I sat down to write this article, I said to myself, “Boy, you are in trouble!” To whittle down all those wonderful bites to five almost became a mission impossible. In my many trips to Florence, I can honestly say I’ve only had three subpar meals. On the other hand, I have had many, many meals that are imprinted on my taste buds as if branded. BUT I am tenacious and accepted the challenge…so here are my top five bites. Enjoy!
Greens & Lemons is a friendly, healthy restaurant in an unassuming strip mall in Mission, Texas. They have lots of vegan and gluten free options, as well as delicious juices made in-house. My friend and I dined there 3 times in just a week! So if you live in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas or ever find yourself traveling through, check this place out.
Torchy’s Tacos 2150 Palm Valley Road, Round Rock, TX 78664 http://torchystacos.com/location/round-rock/
During the Christmas holiday, I left the sunny skies of Fort Lauderdale to visit my little sister who lives near Austin, TX. She let me know that Torchy’s Tacos was definitely on the menu during my stay there and for good reason. Since being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Torchy’s Tacos is well on its way to becoming a legendary “must-stop” spot near Austin, TX.
Having lived in Southern California for some years, I learned to love a good, authentic street taco so I was not sure what to expect with Torchy’s. My sister just moved to Texas from our hometown in the Midwest. While there’s nothing like the staple meat and potatoes dishes from back home, I wasn’t quite sure if her definition of “damn good” tacos would stand up to my seasoned palette. Either way, my little sister talked up this place something fierce, so I was revved try it. I have to say I was not only very much not disappointed; I was as pleased as a pig in mud.
Quite simply, the food here is damn good.
My boyfriend, sister and I all went in with a battle plan of sorts. First, we were going to tackle their homemade sodas. They both stuck to that plan. Me? I decided that even though it was only a bit after noon, I wanted a drink. That is what vacation is about, eh?
On to the food! We planned to each get something different so the others could try a variety of tacos. That plan pretty much went by the wayside when my boyfriend and I ordered almost the same spread and my sister decided to go with a shrimp taco variation. For the average person, a shrimp taco might sound divine, but unless I am ready to meet my maker, it’s a no-go for me since I am highly allergic to shellfish.
I ordered three tacos. The Brushfire, which was a combination of spices and seasoning that almost blew my mouth away. It. Was. Spicy. The taco consisted of marinated jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, and cilantro. Ladies, it comes with a dab of Diablo hot sauce as well. I’m pretty sure the devil himself made it because when I bit into it, I felt the heat of a thousand suns in my mouth. I thought I was just being a baby, but my Jamaican boyfriend who is plenty used to spice said it was spicy to him. So, yes. It’s spicy. This taco usually comes with sour cream, probably to cool things down, but I opted out of that. I guess I like to walk on the wild side. Despite its straight from hell spicy factor, I would order it again. It had great flavor and is a bonus if anyone needs their sinuses aired out.
Chicken Fajita. Y’all. I had a regular, ole chicken fajita taco at a place that offered specialty tacos with names like Dirty Sanchez and Mr. Pink. I lamed out with that choice. Of all the tacos I had, I would skip this one when ordering again. There was nothing wrong with it. But, the other two tacos were so right that this one seemed a bit bland in comparison.
That brings me to the last taco. The Mr. Orange, a fresh combination of blackened salmon, grilled bean and corn relish, a sauce blend of queso fresco and cilantro along with cotija cheese and avocado salad. Of the three, this was my favorite. Don’t get me wrong. Each taco was delicious, but I could have easily put away three or four Mr. Orange tacos. The salmon cooked just right, and the mix of flavors had a nice combination of sweet, zesty and savory. I usually ask for my sauces on the side, but since I was going for the full experience, I decided not to, which ended up being a great decision. If you usually are a sauce-on-the-side girl, try asking for light sauce but keep the taco as original to the menu as possible. Your tastebuds will thank you.
After getting our grub on at Torchy’s, we decided to head to Round Rock Donuts for sweet treats. If you remember from another post of mine, I do not like donuts. In fact, when ranking my top dessert options, donuts would not be anywhere near the top of the list. However, since being exposed to the fine confections that are homemade donuts, I figured, “why not?”
It was, again, a smart choice. We got a variety of donuts there. Small ones. Big ones. Ones you might even be able to fit your head through. That would be the Texas-sized donut.
When compared to a regular one, the Texas-sized donut probably equals about five donuts stretched out to make a giant “O” shape. It looked glorious. And like a heart attack. So we passed on that one. But, if you’re a “when in Rome” type person, try it out and comment on how you liked it. With so many appealing goodies in the local donut shop, you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose.
This past September, Fatboi Jess moonlighted as a country bumpkin and embarked on a mini vaca to South Carolina.
Boone Hall Plantation (they filmed part of The Notebook here!)
Husk Restaurant & Bar located in downtown historic CharlestonCilantro Will Prevail: tequila, fig, cilantro, lime, tonic, and salt. Dahl’s Dessert: peach infused Bourbon, peach vinegar, anise, cream, and cinnamon.
Poogan’s Porch, one of Charleston’s oldest independent culinary establishments. The name comes from the pup Poogan that stayed behind when the home was sold and turned into a restaurant. Ole Poogan served as the official greeter before his passing in 1979.Pan Roasted Salmon, watercress, edamame beans, heirloom tomatoes, biscuit croutons, and basil gremolata Mac & Cheese with country ham and aged smoked gouda, bold, savory flavor. This was just the beginning of my mac & cheese journey as I ordered some each day.
Juice Jointpop-up juice barDreamsicle: orange, strawberry, banana mango (left) Watermelon Agua Fresca with fresh lime (right)Hominy GrillGrilled Eggplant & Herbed Goat Cheese with roasted red peppers and grilled red onion on sunflower toastJalapeño Hush Puppies with sorghum butterIf you don’t smother your hush puppy in mac & cheese, you’re doing it wrong.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, they ship nationwide if you’re in need of that Southern comfortSausage, Egg, and Pimento Cheese with The Glass Onion’s “Belle” sausage patty, pimento cheese, and scrambled eggs. I wish I could’ve eaten this twice.Blueberry Biscuit, blueberries baked inside with lemon cream cheese frosting made in-house with sugared blueberries
Magnolias, upscale Southern cuisineSweet Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna, habanero hummus and Pepper Jack spring rolls, roasted mango salsa, Créole remouladeSouthern Fried Mac & Cheese, BBQ pulled pork, collards, black-eyed peas
Bakehouse Bakery & CafeNot your average s’mores bar with a cold block of chocolate sandwich between a toasted marshmallow and a thick graham cracker. Cold chocolate is the way to go.
I can’t report too much here on account of the jalapeño margaritas and a failed attempt at initiating a dance off with a bachelor party.
We stumbled upon the Savannah Bee Company tucked away in the King Street Shopping District, where they offer mead tastings. Mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water and fruits, grains, hops, or spices. While you won’t ever find me ordering rounds of mead at the club, it was a great experience tasting the different types and learning about its rich history.
Notable Food Trends: Pimento cheese, Fried green tomatoes
Closing Thoughts: “If I lived down here I would most definitely end up on my 600-pound life.”
Vail Brewing specializes in artisan, hand crafted ales brewed in small batches. They brew what they like to drink! I loved their “Life’s a Peach” Belgian wit style beer. It was light with a hint of fruit at the end; just right for a crisp, fall afternoon, sitting outside among the mountains. I may have had a couple.
After a few craft beers you may want to head to Vendetta’s for a big olé slice of pizza or two. Our friends in Vail, (aka locals), rave about their slices. Their raving did not disappoint. Vendetta’s has been around since 1983 serving up slices literally the size of my head. If you can’t decide on one, you can mix and match your pie. Why not try a few kinds, the names alone are that enticing 🙂
Root and Flower offers an approachable elegance. The space is intimate and I can see getting cozy in here after a day on the mountain. These marinated olives with Colorado feta, holy yum! They were like candy and I could not stop hoarding them.
A final stop should be Sweet Basil, which is rumored to see a number of celebrities during the peak season.
For the celebrity treatment, start with the Steelhead Trout Crudo. It is served with tempura avocado, charred scallions and lime. I so regretted sharing this dish with my dining partners. I wanted to keep it all for myself. It was delightful, melt in your mouth, savor it to the last morsel, delicious crudo.
The Steelhead Trout entrée also will not steer you wrong. The trout is meaty, similar to salmon, served with smoked potato, spinach purée, black garlic and pickled mustard. The dish is a scrape your plate clean winner.
To cap of your food crawl you absolutely need dessert. Get Sweet Basil’s Sticky Toffee Pudding with brown sugar rum ice cream and peanut brittle. This is a ball drenched in goodness. It does not stand a chance against your spoon.
Should you need a food and drink coma recovery the next morning, I highly recommend heading BACK to Vendetta’s and grabbing a Bloody Mary. Watch the pizzas get thrown in the oven and sip that spicy cocktail until the food coma wears off 🙂
The first time I stumbled onto Salt & Lime Cabo Grill, it was with my sister in law and her then 3-year-old. It was a beautiful, unusually cool North Carolina summer day, and we comfortably sat outside in the patio area with our two toddlers, eating salads and drinking margaritas. It was awesome (and surprisingly relaxing)!
Fast forward a year later, and this restaurant has become a staple for our Friday Family Date Nights! It’s so much fun to get the four of us together for a no-pressure meal. Over chips and salsa, we laze our way into the weekend. Over the course of the meal, our almost-toddler daughter nabs her way through the fruit at the top of my white wine sangria, and our 3-year-old son eats chips and salsa non-stop for about 45 minutes. Insane. The GM always stops by to play with the baby, and every single wait staff we’ve had has been both incredibly accommodating and extremely welcoming to our chaotic family. On several occasions, they have even squeezed us into a table that is reserved in 45 minutes, allowing us to get in and out and home before bedtime. As far as I am concerned, Salt & Lime has the best customer service in town!
Salt & Lime is a Baja-inspired restaurant serving everything from taco plates to fresh salads to delicious looking burritos and plated entrees. Everything is prepared fresh daily, which would be my only caveat with this restaurant. On one occasion the salsa was way too spicy for us, which ruined our son’s “dinner” – but one in twenty times is a blip; hardly an issue! They have a pretty extensive menu with several types of salsa and guacamole – one day I’m going to try that fire roasted tomato with goat cheese guacamole; it sounds amazing! I regularly order their Avocado-Tomato Salad with House-Spiced Salmon added. It’s one of my favorite things on the menu, so fresh, and the salmon is just perfect!
Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a taco kick! This is our new go-to when our parents are in town, so it’s fun to order 3 or 4 taco plates and swap out tacos. My husband always goes for the BBQ Mahi taco plate – he loves it! My current favorite is the Bangkok Shrimp – they are sticky and sweet and a little bit spicy! My only albeit is that it is fried shrimp, but a little cheat every once in a while is good for the soul! (I’m sure they would grill it if you asked, as a whole, the restaurant seems very keen to please). The Jamaican Jerk tacos are also on point, but a tad too spicy for me! The last time I took the whole fam, my brother, a vegetarian, ordered the spicy gazpacho and the Baja nachos and was very impressed. I was pleased, to say the least, as he is quite the world traveler; Paris being the newest town he can call home. My sister and mom split the Quesadilla Grande, and we all shared around the table. Everyone was full and happy when we called it a night!
They are constantly adding to the menu, and so there is always something new to try whenever you go! I’m excited – we are heading there Friday night to celebrate my babe Margaret’s first birthday! We rarely get dessert when we head out on the town, but you can bet I’m getting my girl something sweet to celebrate the big UNO!
With the heat at record temperatures, what does a city gal have to do aside from fleeing the scorching NYC streets to the relaxed mountains of Upstate New York? Surprisingly, so many artisanal options are springing up in even the town of Catskill that it didn’t feel like I was too far from the foodie options of my native NYC.
Billed as a “revival restaurant” from an era where the steak was just $1.50, I’m not even sure I could get a pack of Orbit gum for that price in some Bodegas. A Polish-American has taken over the helm reinvigorating the space with charm, music, and perogies. Oh man, have I mentioned how much I love perogies? Their menu offers several exciting lunch dishes including a Happy Hour from 4 pm-6 pm that features all kinds of $4 treats. You can go wild at the price of $4 appetizers, craft micro-brew drafts, fine wines, and cocktails all for just $4. That’s less than a Subway sandwich.
I started out with their signature selection of pierogi. The sautéed the bacon, onion chutney, and sour cream is an absolute delight. They were flavorful and satisfying. You can also purchase these delectable bites to go in a frozen variety, to keep at home
Another standout choice on the menu was the Black & Bleu Flat Bread covered with grilled flank steak, bleu cheese crumbles, and caramelized onions with grilled portabella mushrooms and roasted bell peppers. A delightful and savory option, it melted right in your mouth. I can’t wait to go back to this quaint restaurant next time and try other options from this fascinating menu.
Next stop was Saratoga Springs as I took my sojourn to see Counting Crows at SPAC. When in Saratoga, one must try the local eats and my eye was immediately drawn to the cafe that resembled the big top.
The menu boasts that their burger has won awards, so I simply had to try it. After testing both the burger and mac & cheese while successfully not keeling over from a massive coronary I came to the conclusion that this eatery is really about the fun of the circus. However, if you’re seeking a lump of cotton candy and some fantastic happy hour options, then this is the place for you. I’m sure the local college kids at Skidmore make good use of this place.
I was amazed that I could order a drink at 11 am on a weekday but when in Saratoga, embrace the fight club rules of being in Saratoga. I tried the black cherry martini which tasted like an alcohol infused kool-aid. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet cocktails, but Circus Cafe had an ample list of libations for the adventurous ordered and wine drinker alike.
I loved loved loved the atmosphere. I’m a sucker for classic circus chachki’s and between the elegant chandelier, buttery movie theatre popcorn served free of cost, and the vintage Ringling Brothers signage I had a good time if not the best tasting experience of my life.
Finally, a MUST stop when in the Catskill region is Angela’s. I’ve blogged about this place before, and I can’t express how good this pizza and beer is. While unassuming looking, simple chairs and tables, a fun aspect of the dining experience are being able to see the kegs through the glass while you eat.
Here I am grasping at one of their home-grown ales the Kiskatom Brown Ale. I always gravitate toward darker beers, and this one does not disappoint. If you’re not in the mood for a drink, you can always take a growler home with you.
I went to Angela’s earlier in the day, and I stumbled upon brunch service and tried one of their “personal” brunch pizzas. This pizza is far from personal-almost the size of a regular pie, and it was out of this world. Drenched in perfectly cooked eggs and ham they have several different breakfast pizza options. You will entirely be bringing home leftovers-assume nothing less.
As the summer winds down and we transition into weekend trips upstate to see the leaves change these are three places you should stop by if you’re climbing in the car for a city escape. You can join the circus, have a taste of Poland, and gorge yourself on pizza but hopefully not all in one day.
The Steel City–Pittsburgh, PA–is known for professional sports teams, bright yellow steel bridges, and ketchup, but did you know there is a bustling foodie scene there? Zagat even declared Pittsburgh to be their number one food city of 2015… and Zagat knows a thing or two about food.
When I traded my snow boots for sunglasses and moved west in 2011, I was more than a little sad to be trading the Pittsburgh Strip District for the Las Vegas Strip. Sure, one might be packed with neon lights and slot machines, but the other is home to wheels of cheese, buckets of olives, and fries on sandwiches. The struggle is real, folks. Still, you could always click here and go online for the slots whilst enjoying those meals, right?
Luckily, I get to spend a few days in Pittsburgh each summer. I normally stay at a hotel in the Cultural District, which a great location for checking out shows at one of the theaters, or my favorite – The Heinz History Center. Most importantly, it’s a prime location for restaurants and the aforementioned Strip District.
This year I only had one day to eat explore. Here’s how it went down:
First thing’s first: Pamela’s is CASH ONLY. The first location opened in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh in the late 1970s, and they have expanded to 6 different locations. This was my first visit to the Strip District location, but looking around the cute little dining room, hotcakes (pancakes) seemed to be the way to go. I also wanted to try Gail’s Favorite Eggs (scrambled with cream cheese and scallions) and the Lyonnaise style potatoes, so the server suggested The Morning After special, and upgraded my eggs for a small up-charge. It takes a lot to embarrass me, but when my breakfast came out and took up THE ENTIRE TABLE, I felt a bit flushed. Of course, that could have just been excitement as my eyes transmitted to my brain that these hotcakes looked AMAZING…and they were. The outer edges are crispy, almost like a cookie, while the center was fluffy and soft (not unlike my own center). I’m not the only one blown away by these hotcakes — President Obama tried them while on the campaign trail, and later invited the owners to prepare them for 80 veterans at a White House Memorial Day breakfast. GET THESE… just remember to bring cash.
I skipped coffee at breakfast so I could fulfill my latte art needs, and I was not disappointed. A simple coffee shop, 21st Street is an unpretentious place to read a newspaper, study, and enjoy a coffee or tea. I went with an anything-but-boring latte, but was intrigued by their Fizzy Tea – Kilogram Tea’s Lemongrass Green Iced Tea, carbonated and served on draft-next time!
I fell in love with Bluebird Kitchen on my last visit to Pittsburgh, so much that I broke my own rule and ate there twice in the same week. Their menu changes often, but they serve breakfast and lunch options including hot and cold sandwiches, soup, salads, and a daily variety of vegetable and side salad options. They also have a dessert case that is drool-worthy. I ordered July’s Vegetarian Sandwich, which was loaded with corn, zucchini, pickled onions and more, crammed into a perfectly chewy ciabatta bread. I also ordered one of their jumbo strawberry-peach macarons, and can I tell you a secret? I devoured it, and ordered two more…one for my significant other, and the other one for me (obviously). So flavorful! I was pleasantly surprised by the chunks of sweet, juicy peach in the filling. I have yet to have something from there that is not delicious… and I’ve been there 3 times now, so I’m clearly an expert. GO, for breakfast, for lunch, for a snack… just go.
Having recently fallen in love with kombucha, you can imagine my delight when I was wandering through Pittsburgh’s Market Square, and saw a sandwich board for a kombucha bar. Yes, you read that correctly: A KOMBUCHA BAR! Take my money! After a delightful lunch, I hung around Market Square watching some live performances that were going on in the square that afternoon. It was very hot and humid, and I was getting quite parched… tart, effervescent, and refreshing kombucha to the rescue! Much like a bar, I climbed a stool and the booch-keep filled me in on all the varieties they had on tap that day. I decided to try a flight of their Super Sour Barrel Aged Ciderbuch, Hopped Black Cherry, and Cran Citra Hop. All three were delightful, the Hopped Black Cherry being my favorite. Their kombucha is raw, alive, and unfiltered, and the flavors I tried were between 2.5-5% abv, so please booch responsibly.
I mentioned I liked to stay at a hotel in the Cultural District because of its proximity to great restaurants… Sienna Mercato is directly across the street from that hotel. That potential food coma isn’t going to scare me!! Sienna Mercato offers three unique options. The first floor, Emporio, offers a variety of delicious meatballs (and veggie meatballs), served up several different ways. We normally go there because I am slightly obsessed with their “government cheese” sauce. The second floor, Mezzo, is a more sophisticated option, featuring wines, charcuterie, pizzas, and pasta. Lastly, Iltetto is a rooftop beer garden, with a variety of creative sounding bar snacks-fried Brussels sprouts with smoked maple goat cheese anyone? (YASSS!) We decided to try the second floor – Mezzo. (Side note: Mezzo accepts reservations, which is helpful when there is an evening performance at one of the theaters.)
While they had an extensive wine list, the kombucha from earlier in the day had left me wanting something tart, so I tried Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Imperial Cherry Gose – if you live in their distribution area, and like sour ale, this is one to order, so good! Their menu changes frequently, as they use seasonal ingredients. We chose a pizza as an appetizer, with heirloom tomatoes and pickled ramps. Growing up in Appalachia, ramps were a cultural staple. As a child, I was repulsed by them (very strong wild onion/garlic smell), but as an adult, I have come to appreciate their pungency.
I ordered the daily vegetable risotto, which was loaded with zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and topped with fresh chives and grated cheese. My SO ordered braised pork risotto with peas, pancetta, and Parmesan. While both were delicious (and huge), we both preferred my vegetable dish. I wouldn’t have thought to add sweet corn to risotto, but carbs on carbs don’t ever let a girl down. After a day of what can only be described as food hedonism, I had to pass on dessert this time, but previous experience has taught me that the Pecan Balls from Emporio (first floor) are the way to go if you have room-vanilla ice cream, rolled in pecans, drenched in hot fudge…just as amazing as it sounds.
My one-day visit barely allowed me to scratch the surface of all that Pittsburgh offers, and I’m already looking forward to my next trip.
I know everyone always claims their hometown food is the best — but when you live where fresh bay water meets sea salt and sand, it’s hard to deny that San Francisco is where it’s at when it comes to fresh produce. Now add the fact that some of our country’s most innovative chefs set up shop all along the peninsula, and us San Fran kids really have something to be proud of. So this year, I’m joining the crowd to celebrate the best of the Bay’s homegrown food, world-class chefs, restaurants, somms, mixologists — and all things to eat and drink in SF — at Eat Drink SF 2016.
About the Eat Drink SF
Each year, Eat Drink SF invites foodies, wine-nerds, culinary enthusiasts, and just plain hungry and thirsty people to meet and greet with top local chefs, bartenders, and sommeliers. The three-day event, running from Thursday, August 26 – 28, will include over 160 restaurants participants who will provide tasty treats, cooking demonstrations, and more.
Those looking for a little more to munch on will certainly be able to find it. Participating restaurants include:
1300 on Fillmore, Alembic, Brasserie S&P, Cafe Claude, Cathead’s BBQ, Chiaroscuro, Cross Hatch Eatery, Delfina Pizzeria, Dragon Beaux, E&O Kitchen and Bar, Gaspar Brasserie, Gitane, Hog & Rocks, Humphry Slocombe, Huxley, Konjoe, Lemonade, Luce, Michael Mina, Precita Park Cafe, Roka Akor, Souvla, Spaghetti Bros., SPIN San Francisco, Terzo, The Keystone, The Market, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, Tratto, Zero Zero
If you’re interested in learning a few kitchen tips and tricks, you’re certainly going to want to check out the Main Stage where lectures, demonstrations, and Q&A with industry experts will be featured all day. Check out the Events Page for details.
And let’s not forget about us drink enthusiasts! This year, Eat Drink SF will feature over 70 bars, distilleries, breweries, and wineries who will provide the events drinks as well as host tastings and seminars. Featured beverages will include:
Bass Note Sangria, Beaujolais Wines, Bodega Norton, Buena Vista Cafe, Ca’ Momi Winery, Carpano Antica Formula, Chateau Gassier, Concannon Vineyard, Fernet Branca, FloWater, Joel Gott Winery, Kikori Whiskey, Korbel California Champagne, Junipero Gin, Mr. Espresso, Provenance Vineyards, Pure Leaf Iced Tea: Tea House Collection, Purity Organics, Robert Mondavi Winery, SIMI Winery, Singani 63, Sipsmith Independent Spirits, San Francisco Brewers Guild, S. PELLEGRINO® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Spirit Works Distillery, Stella Artois, Stella Artois Cidre,Templeton Rye, Teeling Whiskey, The Glenlivet, The Hess Collection, Torres Brandy, Trinchero Napa Valley, Trumer Pils, Tullamore D.E.W, Wente Vineyards, Woodford Reserve, Zaya Rum, and Zodiac Vodka.
And just like the culinary kids, pros in the beverage industry will be hosting several educational seminars throughout the day as well in the San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom. I’m personally excited for Saturday’s Chardonnay: Burgundy, Butter & Beyond with Chris Gaither, AS.
Oh, but I do hope the SF Wine School brings more cute tattoos…
Hungry for more? Tickets are still available on the Eat Drink SF website. And whether you’re there for just one day or the whole weekend, I guarantee you won’t go thirsty or hungry.
Located in the heart of downtown Asheville, just walking distance from some of the best craft breweries in the city, Local Provisions is serving Southern cuisine with a modern yet memorable flare. Chef Justin Burdett, who has laid down some southern roots himself at restaurants like Hugh Acheson’s 5&10 and Atlanta’s Miller Union, focuses on the offerings of the season and looks for creative, innovative ways to highlight each individual flavor. While Burdett has cultivated relationships with local farmers throughout Asheville, he does not consider this restaurant farm to table. His menu changes as rapidly as the ingredients become available. So make sure you don’t have foodie remorse and order that dish when you see it!
So let’s get to the good stuff – the FOOD! The menu is divided up into five main segments: Taste, Small, Large, Preserved, and Sweet (sad to say, I missed out on this portion of the menu). Since there were three of us, we decided to order a few things from each section to get a real sense of the local flavor and for Chef Justin’s style.
We started out with the Ten Mile Melon and Peppers and Heirloom Tomato, both selections from the Taste section. I am a sucker for tomatoes and have been since I was a little girl, so I wanted to see how these compared to what my grandpa grew in his garden. Both were stunning dishes. The melon dish was a combination of shishito peppers and a golden watermelon/cantaloupe hybrid offering refreshment and spice simultaneously.
Already wanting more, our server brought out a gorgeous dish of heirloom tomatoes that was, simply put, a work of art. The heartiness and intense color of the tomatoes were complimented by the brilliant yellow and orange marigolds delicately placed on top. This was one of the most delicious paradoxes I’ve ever encountered.
Not stopping there, we decided to order a couple of items from the Small section. While it was a tough decision, we came to a consensus and ordered Fried Oysters and Mushroom Toast, both of which were excellent choices. While I was quite the fan of the oysters, the Mushroom Toast satiated any bit of hunger I had. A combination of chanterelle and hen of the woods mushrooms, this toast was covered in tomme and had a slight bit of pan sauce drizzling the dish. Confession: while my friends were noshing on the oysters, I snuck in extra bites of the Mushroom Toast. The savory flavors of the mushrooms combined with the rich and creamy texture of the tomme were well balanced by the crispness of the toast; definitely one of the highlights of the meal.
The girls and I had ordered four dishes and two different items off the preserved menu (Pork Sausage and Kimchi) but we wanted to make sure we had the best of what Local Provisions had to offer. We had the opportunity to chat with Chef Justin – what an incredibly interesting and gracious host! Not only did we learn about how he and his wife met in Asheville over a decade ago but learned about his experiences cooking at the Beard House in New York and even some of his favorite things off the Waffle House menu. Scattered, smothered and covered? Guess you will have to drop into Local Provisions and ask him yourself!
Making sure that we had not overlooked anything on the menu, he recommended the Seared Scallops and the Goldfinch Fairytale Eggplant. It was like asking which child he liked better – he couldn’t choose one, so we had both. The summer squash, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers provided the perfect color palate for this dish. Seared with the perfect crust, the scallops were succulent and appetizing.
They say that good things come in small packages, and the Goldfinch Fairytale Eggplant was no exception. These tiny fairy tale eggplants are packed full of flavor without the bitterness and seediness of their larger counterparts… perhaps that’s the upside of being small. Chef did an excellent job contrasting the richness of the eggplant with the light botanical essence of the fennel flower.
Asheville is increasingly gaining the attention of tourist and foodies near and far, as there is an abundance of local craft breweries and premium dining on every block. Chef Justin Burdett epitomizes the food movement taking place in Asheville. He carefully procures the finest ingredients from local farmers and creates thoughtful, appetizing dishes, making Local Provisions a destination restaurant.
I just adored Chef Justin so had to snap a pic before I left. 🙂