Two new Southern restaurants that have recently opened are doing wonderful work paying homage to the classic dining experiences of the past while putting a new shine on their cuisines. Referential and reverential at once, these spots don’t try to be retro-cool. They have created something vibrant and new out of the best parts of culinary history. While neither is located in the big cities of the South, that’s a big part of their charm that makes them worth the drive.

Worth the Drive: 2 New Restaurants in the South

The Dining Room at High Hampton

1525 Highway 107 South, Cashiers, NC 28717 • (800) 648-4252
Hours: Breakfast — daily, 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Evening hours — daily, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The lovely mountain town of Cashiers in western North Carolina has long been a destination for visitors seeking to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life while basking in the natural beauty and slow pace of small-town life. That’s why it was a natural fit when the team behind Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN, decided to invest in a stately property in the area so they could bring their brand of luxury and hospitality to the region. Long known as High Hampton Inn, the property was originally a summer retreat for families and a resort where visitors could spend weeks engaging in water sports and social activities. Think of something like a Southern Dirty Dancing.

Blackberry Farm and their partners sought to maintain the genteel vibe of the property while updating the accommodations, which were previously still pretty close to what they were after the resort was rebuilt after a major fire in 1933. Central to the update was a dedication to the culinary program at High Hampton, with its centerpiece being a new dining room to replace the former nightly buffet offerings that were included as part of the cost of lodging previously.

RELATED: The Best of Western North Carolina: An Ideal Mountain Getaway

The Dining Room at High Hampton, a new Southern restaurant

Jewel tones, dark wood, and floral prints combine to create the sense of casual elegance and Southern gentility that is the hallmark of Blackberry Farm and High Hampton. Image: High Hampton

Blackberry Farm brought in some culinary heavy hitters who had previously worked in the acclaimed kitchens at their Tennessee property under the tutelage of James Beard Award-winning chefs. Chef Scott Franqueza is Executive PM Chef of the culinary team, moving over the state line from where he was most recently the sous chef at Three Sisters at Blackberry Mountain. Previous kitchen stints include time at prestigious kitchens such as Per Se and Café Boulud in New York City. Scott brought his wife April along with him to run the pastry program at High Hampton, and the couple brings considerable culinary talent to their new positions. Zach Chancey serves as Executive AM Chef, and the West Virginia native is dedicated to presenting the bounty of agricultural products of the region to diners’ plates.

The Dining Room at High Hampton has always been the primary gathering spot for hotel guests, where they could plan the day’s activities over breakfast and recount stories of the fun they had when the day was over. In its latest incarnation, The Dining Room is still a vital social center for the resort, but with a newly updated menu that demonstrates a dedication to local ingredients and classic Southern favorites reimagined for the modern age.

The decor of the dining room is stunning, accented with modern artworks and striking blue chandeliers. It has to be this bold to compete with the natural beauty of the surroundings, visible through large windows or even more directly for those fortunate enough to dine al fresco on the large flagstone patio areas with gorgeous mountains looming in the background.

Outdoor patio overlooking nearby mountains at The Dining Room at High Hampton

No art on the wall can compete with the natural beauty of Rock Mountain in Cashiers that delights outdoor diners. Image: High Hampton

A cozy bar area exudes its comfortable connection with nature through its woody design scheme, and it’s an excellent place to meet for a cocktail before dinner or to wind down the night with a glass of wine from High Hampton’s stellar list. Zach’s breakfasts are inspired by down-home Southern meals, featuring daily griddle cake specials and classics like biscuits and gravy, but lighter fare is also available. If you don’t want to feel laden down for the day ahead, pick a yogurt parfait or a farm egg accompanied by local greens.

At dinner, Scott leans local with an emphasis on ingredients like North Carolina trout or an earthy salad made from beets grown on a nearby farm. Sunday fried chicken is a tradition at High Hampton and worth extending your stay for. Work will still be waiting for you if you get home a day late. No dinner is complete without at least one of April’s desserts, and her coconut cake is already gaining legendary status.

Dining at High Hampton is limited to registered guests, but it’s not really a sacrifice to book a stay at this magnificent property to gain access to the remarkable food!

The bar at The Dining Room at High Hampton, a new Southern restaurant

Every level of The Dining Room‘s bar stocks top-shelf spirits that are wonderful as part of a cocktail or sipped neat. Image: High Hampton

Coconut cake from The Dining Room at High Hampton

Pastry chef April Franqueza is willing to bend the rules about local ingredients for this marvelous coconut cake, and you should too! Image: High Hampton

Grille on Main

445 Providence Main St. NW, Huntsville, AL 35806-4832 • (256) 829-5858
Hours: Lunch — Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Dinner — Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Brunch — Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Huntsville, AL, has really gained a vaunted reputation as a culinary destination over the past few years, in no small part thanks to the contributions of Chef James Boyce. The veteran chef spent his formative years working in Manhattan at restaurants like Le Cirque, learning from Daniel Boulud. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, James spent time in kitchens in Las Vegas and Southern California before striking out on his own with Boyce Restaurant Concepts in Huntsville.

He opened Cotton Row in the city’s historic downtown in 2008, and his take on classic Americana cuisine with Southern accents quickly began drawing the attention of diners as far away as Birmingham and Nashville. He followed up that success by opening Pane e Vino Pizzeria, serving elevated rustic Italian cuisine, and his bistro-style Commerce Kitchen.

RELATED: 3 New Hotels for Your Next Southern Road Trip

James’ latest venture is yet another feather in his culinary cap with Grille on Main, a classic American steak and seafood restaurant in the Village of Providence, a planned community that offers a slice of small-town Southern charm located near all the amenities of the city. James’ new restaurant moved into the former space of Grille 29, and he has kept much of the staff on to help out with his latest venture.

Several favorite dishes have also migrated from some of his other menus so he can introduce a new neighborhood to his brand of cooking. Cotton Row’s famous short ribs and Commerce Kitchen’s spinach salad make appearances on the Grille on Main menu, and diners are very grateful to see them.

Exterior of Grille on Main, a new Southern restaurant

Grille on Main is a welcome addition to the Village of Providence and fits in nicely with the community’s attractive design ethos. Image: Grille on Main

Short ribs from Grille on Main

Chef James Boyce is known and loved for his succulent beef short rib, and many fans are ecstatic that the dish followed him to his latest restaurant.

The decor of the dining room is dramatic, with lots of leather, metal, and dark wood accents, and huge light fixtures illuminate the tables on the outdoor deck. Fire peeks through a window to the kitchen, giving an idea of the cooking going on inside where meat and seafood benefit from the char of the grill.

Open for lunch and dinner plus a weekend brunch, Grille on Main offers a mix of classic dishes like Caesar, wedge, and Cobb salads alongside fun appetizers like pimento cheese on Ritz crackers, fried chicken bites, smoked sausage, and fried green tomatoes. Lunch options revolve around elevated sandwiches such as a crispy grouper, Maine lobster rolls, and a hand-pressed black Angus burger. Larger midday entrées include harissa-rubbed salmon and a classic steak and fries under a béarnaise sauce.

Brunch from Grille on Main, a new Southern restaurant

Everything’s better with a fried egg on top, including this Southern Man’s Stack made with fried chicken and pork belly.

Steak and fries from Grilled on Main

This butcher’s steak and fries is a midday treat for lunch.

The plates get bigger for the evening meal, and James rolls out even more steak and fish options as starters and mains. Cornmeal-crusted fried Apalachicola oysters are a particular fan-favorite appetizer of the moment, and James is deservedly proud of his braised beef short rib served with Parmesan grits, roasted tomatoes, and baby arugula.

Center cut steaks range from large to huge, with a 20-oz. bone-in ribeye highlighting the offering. In an area where desserts tend to be fancy versions of the same pies, cakes, and cobblers you might see on Grandma’s table, it’s refreshing to see Chef James going old school with a lovely version of a classic chocolate soufflé with Chambord Crème Anglaise. That dish takes a half hour to prepare, so you’ll need to decide ahead of time if you want it so you can order it before the meal. (And you do want it, so do order it!)

In another ode to the days of dignified dining when patrons didn’t just rush out the door after the last course, James offers a list of after-dinner drinks and dessert wines and cocktails to complete the dining experience. By combining his veteran sensibilities with an awareness of the desires of modern diners, James has created something unique and wonderful with his new Grille on Main. It’s definitely worth the trip!

Cocktails from Grille on Main, a new Southern restaurant

The bar at Grille on Main can whip up just about any drink you can think of, but ask them about some of their old school classics for a special after-dinner treat.

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Published June 17, 2021.

As the restaurant industry continues to return to some semblance of normalcy after a really rough last 15 months, we’re seeing more and more new spots popping up around the South. In this month’s roundup of new restaurants to add to your “eat-inerary,” we’ve got a new offering in Birmingham from a beloved Alabama chef, a modern American eatery in the heart of the burgeoning culinary hotspot of Greenville, SC, and a novel plant-based dining opportunity in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. You know how they say not to shop for groceries when you’re hungry? You might want to grab a little snack before you read any further!

Worth the Drive: 3 New Restaurants in the South

Helen

2013 2nd Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 438-7000
Hours: Lunch — Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Cocktail hour — Tuesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Dinner — Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Chef Rob McDaniel has already earned legions of fans from his 11 years helming the kitchen at the popular SpringHouse restaurant in Alexander City near Lake Martin. Among those devotees were plenty of folks from Birmingham who made the two-hour drive to enjoy Chef McDaniels’ takes on seasonal Southern cuisine. Many of them were already familiar with his work from his time working in Magic City restaurants like Hot & Hot Fish Club and Jim n’ Nick’s.

The good news for Birmingham residents, and anyone looking to try out some of the five-time James Beard Award semi-finalist’s food, is that he has finally opened his own eatery in Birmingham with Helen. Named after the chef’s beloved grandmother, Helen actually opened in late 2020 but is just now hitting its stride as diners emerge from their COVID cocoons to discover what he’s been up to.

Interior of Helen, a new Southern restaurant

The narrow, two-story, shotgun-style building that houses Helen has been around since the 1920s, but it still manages to exude a modern ambiance thanks to some stunning decor. Image: Cary Norton

Painting of Grandma Helen, who inspired new Birmingham restaurant

Chef Rob McDaniel’s grandmother Helen still keeps watch over the kitchen thanks to this prominent portrait. Image: Cary Norton

RELATED: 4 Curious Food Concepts That Emerged From The Pandemic

Rob is well-known for his love of cooking over live fire, and Helen is an homage to the origins of that obsession. Harkening back to the days when his grandma used to fix meals over the smoldering embers of an indoor grill, Rob re-creates his memories of those experiences by serving plates of vegetables, seafood, and meats, many of which have been kissed by the smoke of the wood-fired grill in the open kitchen.

To further the homey vibe, much of the menu is best-enjoyed family-style by picking a few dishes from different sections labeled “beginnings,” “from the soil,” “from land, air & sea,” and finally “endings.” Oh, and “drinks.” You can’t forget about that section if you want to maximize the conviviality.

The can’t-miss starter on the menu is a plate of Rob’s famous warm angel biscuits served with whipped cane syrup butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. Pair them with an order of macerated strawberries with Sophia ashed goat cheese, confit green pistachios, bronze fennel, Poirier’s cane syrup, and olive oil for a delightful taste of summer that’s almost like building your own elevated shortcake. If you’re unfamiliar with Poirier’s, it’s a Louisiana product made by boiling sugar cane down to an amber elixir that is sweet, earthy, and scarcer than hen’s teeth.

Slightly more substantial, but still fine as an appetizer, is a dish of “ribs” of sweet corn and sneaky-spicy shishito peppers torqued up with a dollop of iconic Alabama white barbecue sauce, queso fresco, sumac, and cilantro for a lovely fusion of Southern and Latin cuisine. Don’t be sad if you happen to get the one in 10 shishitos that is really hot; it’s an honor.

Spread of food from Helen, a new Southern restaurant

Shared plates are the best way to experience more of the menu at Helen. Image: Cary Norton

Vegetable spread from Helen

Southern vegetables are always highlighted to showcase the freshest flavors of the season. Image: Cary Norton

Ribs from Helen's "From the Land" menu section

The attached bone is what differentiates the KC Strip from its NY cousin, and everything tastes better on the bone. Image: Caleb Chancey

Chef Rob takes full advantage of the hot embers and fiery grill to add even more flavor to cuts of USDA Prime steaks, with the standout being a massive 22-ounce Kansas City strip that is dry-aged for an astonishing 45 days to build up complex flavors and aromas that only time can impart to meat. Fresh seasonal fish benefit from a pass across a hot griddle called a “plancha” to create crispy skin without drying out the meat within.

Rob’s wife Emily is the co-owner and Hospitality Director of Helen and makes sure that the atmosphere inside the 1920’s two-story shotgun building that houses the restaurant is always as warm as the wood-fired grill. Helen also features an approachable wine list and full program of beer, spirits and cocktails to accompany your trip through the Southern region and seasons with the chef’s menu.

So take advantage of the gas money you’re saving by not having to travel all the way to Lake Martin and spend it on a couple of extra plates of those biscuits at Helen!

CAMP Modern American Eatery

2 E. Broad St., Greenville, SC 29601 • (864) 514-2267
Hours: Brunch — Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner — Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Monday

If you haven’t thought about Greenville, SC, as a culinary destination, you’ve been missing out on a fantastic dining scene with more than 100 independent restaurants spread up and down both sides of the city’s quaint Main Street. A large portion of those excellent restaurants are run by the Table 301 Restaurant Group and their multiple dining options including Soby’s, The Lazy Goat, and Nose Dive. The group takes its name from a particular table upstairs at Soby’s where you can see almost every table and the kitchen at work, a reminder that management must keep an eye on every aspect of the dining experience at all times.

Their latest offering is CAMP Modern American Eatery, a stylish new restaurant serving global takes on modern comfort food. The kitchen is run by Chef Drew Erickson, a rising culinary star with a cooking pedigree that includes time in the Soby’s kitchen and four years at Thomas Keller’s legendary French Laundry in Yountville, CA. Erickson’s whimsical style of cooking shines through on the tight menu of bar snacks featuring fun dishes like wagyu beef corn dogs and French onion dip with homemade chips and caviar.

Bar at CAMP Modern American Eatery, a new Southern restaurant

The chef’s table at CAMP offers a front-row seat for all the action in the kitchen. Image: CAMP

If you can score a seat at the chef’s table, you’ll have a front row seat while the talented kitchen staff puts out internationally inspired dishes like Yucatan-style pork tostadas, crispy mussels fried and tossed with a saffron emulsion, marinated artichokes, smoked salami and potato puree, or a spicy ceviche made using the freshest fish in the market with Peruvian leche de tigre marinade, charred habaneros, sea beans, nori, and lime.

More substantial main plates also display nuanced flavors and beautiful plating, highlighted by a brisket deckle en tomatado, a spin on the traditional Mexican dish that is like an enchilada with the substitution of a tomato-based sauce instead of hot pepper sauce. Erickson’s version features that succulent brisket along with roasted seasonal vegetables, crispy puffed rice, radishes, and tomatillos. Seafood lovers should definitely consider the seared sea scallops with adroitly cut vegetables in the accompanying relish and a unique sherry gazpacho.

Braised beef tostadas from CAMP Modern American Eatery

Artfully plated braised brisket tostadas are fine examples of CAMP’s elevated international cuisine. Image: CAMP

Sea scallops from CAMP Modern American Eatery, a new Southern restaurant

The vegetable relish accompanying this scallop dish demonstrates some seriously talented knifework. Image: CAMP

S'mores cocktail from CAMP Modern American Eatery

Who wouldn’t enjoy a s’mores cocktail in front of the fire? Image: CAMP

Whether you’re just dropping by for an artful cocktail and snacks at the rooftop bar overlooking the city skyline, catching the exciting culinary show at the chef’s bar, or dining al fresco with a view of Camperdown Plaza and the Reedy River, you’ll definitely want to go to CAMP this summer!

RELATED: 5 Southern Weekend Getaway Ideas

Dom’s

134 N. Spruce St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 • (336) 999-7211
Hours: Lunch — Thursday through Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.; Dinner — Thursday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Monday through Wednesday

Winston-Salem’s most notable contributions to the culinary universe are probably Moravian cookies, Texas Pete Hot Sauce (despite the name), and the first location of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. Beyond those delicious treats, it’s a pretty meat-centric town with great barbecue, Worcestershire sauce-spiced “dipped” chicken, and classic steakhouse fare. So it seems like a pretty brave move of Chef Brian Ricciardi to open the city’s first 100% plant-based restaurant with Dom’s. But the chef has been vegan for more than six years, and he decided to convert his successful Mozzarella Fellas pizzeria and Italian restaurant into something new while he was shut down for the pandemic.

“I wanted to do what I’m passionate about,” he shares. “I knew there was a want for it, so I figured I’d give the city what it needed and help Winston-Salem continue to develop as a legitimate food scene.”

Chef Brian Ricciardi of Dom's, a new Southern restaurant

Chef Brian Ricciardi is bringing healthy, plant-based versions of classic dishes to downtown Winston-Salem. Image: Dom’s

In addition to changing up the name and concept of his restaurant, Chef Brian also moved into a much larger new location in the heart of downtown. When it came to figuring out a new name, there was no question that he would honor his great-grandfather Dominic. “My grandmother basically raised me and always called me Dominic, “ he recalls with a chuckle. “She even encouraged me to change my name! I knew it would make her happy when I told her the new name.”

While Brian is completely dedicated to a plant-based menu, he doesn’t evangelize the vegan lifestyle to his customers. “I like cooking dishes that I like eating,” he explains. “It’s fun to recreate some of my childhood favorites and the flavors without using meat, but we want to be welcoming to everyone.” Think of it as a comfort food restaurant for the vegan-curious.

The chef is a big fan of bold flavors, including his house-made “bakin’,” a delightful meat substitute made from shiitake mushrooms and coconut that shows up in several dishes on the menu. An amateur hockey player, Brian likes to try out his new menu items on his teammates. “If I can impress a bunch of meat-loving hockey guys, I know I’m on to something,” he jokes.

If you didn’t read the ingredients listed on the menu, you might think that you were dining in an upscale sports bar or a gastropub with an Italian bent. Starters like Buffalo cauliflower, almond Parmesan fries, three-bean nachos, and spicy macaroni and cheese would look right at home on any bar menu, but with much less guilt at Dom’s.

Taking advantage of the newest generation of beef, pork, and chicken substitutes, Dom’s serves burgers and sandwiches that will make you not miss the extra fat and calories. A Chik’n Parmesan sandwich shows off the chef’s Italian heritage without sacrificing taste or texture from the use of multiple dairy-free cheeses in the dish.

The hot pulled pork substitute of the moment is jackfruit, and Chef Brian includes the shredded “meat” of the fruit on a BBQ sandwich and in a carnitas bowl. Two versions of penne are straight ahead Italian highlights of the large plate menu, both a spicy arrabbiata version and a tamer carbonara-sauced plate.

Three-bean nachos from Dom's

The three-bean nachos at Dom’s are an excellent way to start off a meal. Image: Dom’s

Penne Arrabbiata, a new Southern restaurant

Just because the penne arrabbiata at Dom’s doesn’t have meat doesn’t mean it lacks the spicy flavors that characterize the dish. Image: Dom’s

Dom’s commitment to veganism even extends to the wine list. Many people don’t realize that only a small percentage of wines are actually vegan because most winemakers use animal-based “fining agents,” which aid in the clarification process as hazy particles are filtered out of the wine in the tank. Brian intentionally sought out wines that do not use these animal-based filters and was surprised to find out how many options he had. “Whenever I source products, you can see the passion in so many people who want to help. My purveyors and wine vendors are always coming back to me with new things to try, and that’s been really cool,” he shares.

Unlike your friend who won’t stop going on about CrossFit, or the Peloton evangelist who has to share her latest achievements on every Zoom call, Brian is focused on his own kitchen without taking any credit for helping to change Winston-Salem’s culinary scene for the better. Instead, he promises, “We’re just trying to create good food for the neighborhood. I hope we’re not before our time.” From the early response, it would appear that the time is now.

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Published May 19, 2021.

Exciting new restaurants continue to open up around the South, from Nashville and Memphis to Charleston and the beaches of the Florida Panhandle. While you’re planning your next night out or making vacation plans, here are four hot spots to consider.

Worth the Drive: 4 New Restaurants in the South

Lenoir

68 Wentworth St., Charleston, SC 29401 • (843) 534-9031
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday

Vivian Howard is probably best known for her long-running PBS series, “A Chef’s Life,” where she tells the story of returning to her roots in eastern North Carolina to open her successful restaurant, Chef & the Farmer. Dedicated to the farmers and purveyors of her region, Howard’s cuisine always demonstrates a sense of place, which is why Charlestonians are so excited about her latest venture, Lenoir.

Even though she named the restaurant after her home county in North Carolina, Vivian wants to combine the sort of cooking she’s already known for with some healthy dashes of Lowcountry flair and a commitment to Southern hospitality.

With Lenoir, she has created a bright and inviting space that feels like dining in the home of a friend, well … if your friend was a fantastic cook and had a real eye for decorating. Colorful tile and brilliant yellow accents bring a smile to guests’ faces as soon as they walk through the front door of the restaurant near the city’s historic City Market.

Bar at Lenoir, a new Southern restaurant

The airy bar at Lenoir pops with bold, colorful accents. Image: Baxter Miller

Family pictures hanging on the wall in Lenoir

Family photos look down at diners to add a homey feel to Lenoir. Image: Baxter Miller

Together with executive chef Tyson Detzler, who previously worked at local favorite The Obstinate Daughter, Vivian has created a new menu that features some of her most acclaimed dishes like blueberry barbecue chicken wings, but updated with the addition of benne seeds, a Charleston staple ingredient.

International influences harken to Charleston’s history as a port city, so don’t be surprised by a novel take on Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce made with local buttermilk accenting the local crudo dish or a side dish of cabbage slaw dressed with Korean gojuchang. Other dishes flip the script by taking traditional international foods and adding downhome Southern accents. Agnolotti pasta is stuffed with butter beans and served in a ham hock broth and topped with a pecan gremolata for an appropriately salty treat.

It would actually be a fine idea to make a whole meal out of Lenoir’s inventive side dishes, ranging from greens cooked in a ham hock dashi with the famous Carolina Gold rice, peanuts and crispy shallots added for texture to toothy farro piccolo jazzed up with international spices including za’atar butter, dates, mint and marinated feta. Besides, if you feast on mostly vegetables, you’ll feel better about finishing your meal with a slice of Vivian’s pecan chocolate chess pie. It’s all about balanced choices!

Agnolotti pasta stuffed with butter beans from Lenoir, a new Southern restaurant

Butter bean agnolotti with ham hock broth is a lovely combination of downhome and international fare. Image: Baxter Miller

Spread of food and wine from Lenoir

The dishes at Lenoir are almost too pretty to eat. (Almost!) Image: Baxter Miller

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dory

716 W. Brookhaven Cir., Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 310-4290
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; closed Sunday

The word “pivot” gets overused when describing how restaurants have reacted to the pandemic, but when restaurant industry veterans Dave and Amanda Krog decided to open their first Memphis restaurant, dory, capacity constraint regulations forced them to completely rethink their model before they served their first guest. Originally envisioned as a traditional à la carte menu restaurant where the Krogs could showcase their ingredient-driven cuisine made in collaboration with the local farmers who provide their ingredients, they realized that they couldn’t effectively operate that model under current conditions.

“It was a long haul to opening,” Amanda recalls. “We couldn’t do a traditional soft opening, so we held a series of 20-seat pop-up dinners we called ‘galleries’ to introduce ourselves.” These invitation-only meals allowed Dave to experiment with his proposed menu and practice the artful plating that elevates his creative dishes.

The new model was so well received that the Krogs decided to open in early March with a core offering of six-course tasting menu dinners by reservation only from Tuesday through Saturday. The Krogs offer a less extensive (and less expensive) abbreviated four-course meal on Mondays for their friends in the hospitality industry who might have that night off and anyone else looking for a less elaborate menu along with smaller bites available à la carte in the cozy bar and lounge areas of the restaurant.

“We always wanted to do a tasting menu,” explains Amanda, “but being the first to do it in Memphis was scary. People have responded really well, and we’re excited!” dory’s basic culinary philosophy is to treat the food kindly. While the menus for the feasts change monthly, individual components may switch up periodically during the month based on the availability of ingredients and the opportunity to showcase local produce at its peak.

The bar snacks menu stays pretty consistent with highlights like yakitori oysters, a pork rillette and Parker House rolls served with a chef’s choice of compound butter, and the tasting menus are always an adventure. Although it’s billed as six courses, you can expect at least eight to nine separate tastings including special single-bite treats from the kitchen. The first course is usually some sort of salad or vegetarian starter followed by two fish/shellfish dishes, two meat courses and dessert. The kitchen is also willing and able to make substitutions based on allergies or vegetarian preferences. Optional wine pairings are available, and they are thoughtfully selected to accompany each course to help tell the story of the meal.

Yakitori oysters from dory, a new Southern restaurant

The yakitori oysters at dory are a favorite bar bite. Image: dory

Entrée from dory

Rich pork rillettes are cooked for hours, but they’re worth the wait! Image: dory

Salad from dory, a new Southern restaurant

Even a simple seasonal salad is a work of art at dory. Image: dory

The creativity on the plate is mirrored by the decor of the restaurant, with the walls covered by artwork from local artists, all of which is for sale if something particularly catches your eye. The intimate bar and lounge is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink before sitting down to the tasting menu or to take advantage of the small bites to make up your own meal. Reservations are required for the main dining room, but the bar is available for walk-ups.

The Citizen at Alys Beach

20 Mark Twain Ln., Alys Beach, FL 32461 • (850) 909-0702
Hours: Monday through Saturday, Lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Bar Menu 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday

Already a favorite vacation choice along the scenic Highway 30A in the Florida Panhandle, Alys Beach continues to grow as a culinary destination with the opening of The Citizen, a seaside tavern located in the town center of the coastal community. Owner Jeremy Walton has plenty of experience with hospitality, working previously with luxury properties in Palmetto Bluff and Sea Island before coming to Alys Beach as Vice President of Operations. His knowledge of his clientele has informed the design and cuisine at The Citizen.

Jeremy believes that sharing food and drink in an inviting environment is a key to developing a sense of community within the larger community of Alys Beach. A lively bar scene always helps to turn strangers into friends, and the long bar is a centerpiece of the restaurant, along with a shorter raw bar that offers the opportunity to belly up and tuck into some fantastic fresh shellfish. The cocktail program features new variations on classic recipes plus old favorites. There is also a special non-alcoholic “Zero Proof” portion of the drinks menu so that no one need feel left out.

The airy 120-seat main dining room offers views into the open kitchen where chefs prepare dishes inspired by coastal regions around the world by taking advantage of a wood-fired hearth to add a kiss of smoke to the freshest available seafood, steaks and even vegetables in the case of the delectable wood-fired carrot hummus appetizer.

Bar at The Citizen at Alys Beach, a new Southern restaurant

The long bar at The Citizen has quickly become a popular neighborhood gathering spot. Image: Devote Studios

Wood-fired hearth at The Citizen at Alys Beach

Meats cooked low and slow over an open hearth are highlights of The CItizen’s menu. Image: Devote Studios

Besides the hummus, starting the meal with a massive seafood tower piled high with treasures from the Gulf is always a great way to kick off a celebratory evening. Main dish highlights for meat lovers include a crispy smoked pork pancetta served with parsley potatoes, a braised short rib served over creamy grits and The Citizen’s signature filet of beef with bone marrow custard. Seafood dishes worth skipping lunch for range from a delicately fried crusted flounder with shrimp to a roasted grouper with charred fennel, rice and Benton’s bacon. Vegetable lovers don’t get the shaft either thanks to options like a whole hearth-roasted cauliflower served with a Romesco sauce or a rich butternut squash coconut curry with pickled vegetables to add a piquant bite.

If you already have friends with houses in Alys Beach, don’t be jealous. It’s time to get a little chummier with them so that they might invite you down for a dinner at The Citizen. Of course, all are welcome, so feel free to make your own reservation for large parties or just drop in and wait for a table at that inviting bar.

Charcuterie plate from The Citizen at Alys Beach, a new Southern restaurant

Assorted accouterments like Valencia almonds and olives makes for an excellent companion to a glass of wine at the bar. Image: Devote Studios

Seafood spread from The Citizen at Alys Beach

The seafood tower at The Citizen is stacked high with some of the freshest seafood you’ll find anywhere. Image: Devote Studios

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Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

590 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 238-2359
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Although Eddie V’s is owned by the national hospitality juggernaut Darden Restaurants, it’s not at all similar to its corporate cousins like Olive Garden and Cheddar’s. Eddie V’s is all about fine dining served in a glamorous setting, and its latest location in the new Fifth + Broadway retail, dining and entertainment complex in the heart of Nashville’s downtown is a stunning addition to the local restaurant landscape.

Known for its premium seafood flown in daily from around the world, hand-carved steaks and a cutting-edge cocktail program, walking in the door of Eddie V’s whisks you a world away from the honky-tonks of Nashville’s Lower Broad. Dramatic cobalt blue wall coverings almost look like velvet and tempt you to reach out and pet them. The main floor of the dining area is dominated by the V Lounge bar that draws the eye upward to the mezzanine level. Small combos entertain drinkers and diners from the corner of the first-floor dining room, with the sounds of their music wafting up through the atrium to the upper level.

A massive two-story wine cellar is made entirely of glass, offering a view of the almost 4,000 bottles of wine resting inside in perfectly controlled temperature and humidity conditions. Flexible seating options include luxurious booths, formal tables spread around the upper dining room and even some outdoor seating on a second-story mezzanine with a view of the crowds below on Broadway and milling about Fifth + Broad.

Snappily dressed servers and stewards will guide you through the voluminous wine list and menu of Classic American fare with a dash of modern Asian inspiration. Oysters, shrimp or caviar always make for great starters along with larger apps of sashimi, calamari, crab cakes or steak tartare prepared tableside. Steaks are hand-carved daily by a butcher on the staff, and a little surf can be added to your turf with the addition of a South African lobster tail or a topping of king crab, “Oscar-style.” You can also add a cave-aged blue cheese crust to any steak for a small upcharge, and you should definitely consider it!

The Asian influences on the menu really shine through with the seafood offerings like Chilean sea bass steamed Hong Kong style, misoyaki halibut and crab fried rice, or you can take a trip to the Mediterranean with options of parmesan-crusted sole or branzino with artichokes, oven-dried tomato and olive tapenade.

Lower Broad is best known for cold beers, live music and the fried bologna sandwich at Robert’s Western World, but the addition of Eddie V’s has really elevated the neighborhood. You can always still go out honky-tonkin’ a few blocks away after dinner, but take some time to first pamper yourself in the lap of luxury before joining the party crowd.

Chilean sea bass from Eddie V's, a new Southern restaurant

The Chilean sea bass at Eddie V’s is definitely a specialty of the house. Image: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

Butter poached lobster from Eddie V's

The buttery poached lobster over grits is a fine update of the classic Lowcountry favorite. Image: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

Hope Diamond cocktail from Eddie V's, a new Southern restaurant

Try a Hope Diamond for a luminous pre-dinner cocktail. Image: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

Here’s to new dining endeavors! 

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