Keep scrolling, as this article is updated with new restaurants each month. Currently, we have 15 new restaurants to check out in total!
Now that Labor Day has passed, we can put some of our labors behind, too, and concentrate on some fun. We’ve got some new restaurant and bar openings that will definitely put a smile on your face, from an island-inspired tropical paradise outside of Charleston to a restaurant and bar project courtesy of a Knoxville hospitality power couple. Get ready to gas up the car and point it toward some good times!
Worth the Drive: 3 New Restaurants in the South
2213-B, Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482 • (843) 868-8161
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday
One of the best parts about visiting or living in Charleston is the fact that the historic city is surrounded by a series of coastal barrier islands, each with its own unique personality. Sullivan’s Island is about 10 miles from Charleston, but it feels like a world away, with its long stretches of quiet beaches, abundant wildlife, and a small population of laidback residents. The denizens of the island are gifted with some really great dining opportunities, and the latest addition to the culinary scene leans into the island vibe, specifically the idylls of Caribbean life.
The original location of The Longboard is on St. John’s in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the owners have done a fantastic job exporting the food, drinks, and fun from the tropics to the states. Named after the type of boards that serious surfers use to tackle big waves, a longboard hangs above the bar as a centerpiece of the tropical decor that Ballast Hospitality spent two years to create in the shell of a former pizza joint. Ballast also hired Chef Will Fincher from another Sullivan’s Island restaurant to create the menu of seafood-centric dishes that combine the freshest ingredients from the sea prepared with a combination of tropical and Lowcountry influences. The result is a unique dining experience unlike anything else in the region.
Locals pull up in tricked-out golf carts, while tourists are willing to pay top dollar for a rideshare from Charleston to enjoy a meal at The Longboard (and it’s totally worth the fare). Open hurricane shutters allow fresh salt air into the front of the restaurant so that the aromas of the beach follow you into The Longboard, where the beachy design scheme instantly transports you to the islands.
Enjoy a cocktail from the bar at the banquette under those shutters, decorated in tropical greens and jungle foliage designs. The indoor/outdoor dining room is accented by white wooden beams and shiplap walls that look like they have been bleached by the sun, creating a lovely beach bungalow vibe.
The bar program focuses on tropical treats, including the infamous Painkiller, a frozen rum cocktail born in the Virgin Islands and spread to U.S. bars and restaurants where it has been responsible for some irresponsible decisions over the years. Better limit yourself to one of those — two tops! Other custom cocktails also focus on recreating the Caribbean experience through the use of tropical ingredients like grilled pineapple, coconut, passionfruit, and tiki standbys like orgeat.
Cognizant of the fact that some guests may have a half-hour drive back to Chucktown, the bar menu thoughtfully offers a variety of non-alcoholic drinks that are just as creative as their boozy counterparts. In fact, a delicious creation of watermelon, cucumber-basil lemonade, and soda is actually called the “I’m Driving.” The tight wine list features selections by the glass or the bottle, and the beer list focuses on some of Charleston’s excellent local craft breweries.
The raw bar is certainly a highlight of The Longboard. Oyster Hour runs daily from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. with cocktail and oyster specials on both raw and grilled varieties. Dressed oysters are served on ice in a coconut shell bowl topped with seasonal ingredients, and a selection of crudos and ceviches feature the freshest available fish sliced thin and dressed with internationally-inspired accoutrements like watermelon agua chile or aji amarillo. The “Chill & Grill” shrimp are actually grilled, chilled, and then served with yuzu aioli and house cocktail sauce.
Larger shareable plates keep the convivial island bar vibe going with options like smoked fish spread with yucca chips, fish croquettes, mussel toast, and a sweet and crunchy pork belly. A hanger steak is about the only land-based dish on the menu if you absolutely insist on some beef, but we suggest staying in the sea with an order of octopus or a whole fish presentation that changes based on what the chef finds at the market. After all, you came for a trip to the islands, so why order a steak? Head to The Longboard for a tropical vacation without having to rummage in your desk drawer for that dusty passport!
Osteria Stella & Brother Wolf
108 W Jackson Ave., Ste. 2, Knoxville, TN 37902 • (865) 247-4729
Osteria Stella hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 pm to 11 p.m., Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday
Brother Wolf hours: Monday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Knoxville doesn’t get enough attention as a dining destination, but the city actually has the third-largest per capita collection of restaurants in the country. Two local hospitality veterans have recently added to the collection of great culinary options with the opening of the city’s first authentic northern Italian restaurant and its first aperitivo bar dedicated to spirits and cocktails from Italy. The power couple behind Brother Wolf and Osteria Stella is Aaron Thompson and Jessica “Rabbit” King, hometown heroes who are seeking to elevate Knoxville to both the local and state stage. Both have extensive experience with wine, spirits, and operations both in the front and the back of the house. To ensure they got the food and drink offering just right, Aaron and Jessica consulted with Chef Consultant Amalia Brusati, a Milan native, and Chef de Cuisine Salvador Sanchez.
The two establishments share an address, divided by a curtain, and any visit should include at least some time at both halves of the business. Nothing gets the juices flowing before a meal like the delicious herbal and bitter characteristics of a fine Italian amaro, which is the reason they’re called “aperitivos.” Italians enjoy starting off an evening with small bites accompanied by low-alcohol cocktails, and that’s exactly the focus of Brother Wolf.
Snacks range from cheese plates, arancini rice balls, salumi, salty nuts, and olives that pair wonderfully with the bar’s list of 24 cocktails and spritzes. For a slightly stronger drink, choose from one of their Negroni variations that range from classic to experimental. Aaron has created a special wine-by-the-glass program of more than 30 options ranging from light and fruity to leathery brunellos and barolos.
The decor at Brother Wolf is striking, bright, and lively with exposed brick walls accented by gold and brass fixtures. A large mural depicts the bar’s namesake, the mother wolf who nursed Rome’s founders, twin brothers Romulus and Remus. The bar itself is made from polished wood and intricate Italian tile work, and comfy leather and cane woven chairs make it a great place to while away an hour or two before sitting down for a meal on the other side of the curtain.
Osteria Stella is named after Aaron and Jessica’s daughter who turned 1 year old the night the restaurant opened. Stella should be proud of her namesake because it is an excellent addition to the Knoxville dining scene. The dining room is as dramatic as the bar at Brother Wolf, but in a more dark and brooding way. Dark walls, luxe velvet booths, and antique chandeliers contribute a clubby vibe, and floor-to-ceiling curtains offer full privacy to three of the booths. Murals run the length of the restaurant offering the mantra “be courageous, be strong, be kind” written in Italian. If something seems oddly familiar about the host stand, notice that it used to be a church pulpit.
RELATED: 48 Hours in Knoxville, Tennessee
Aaron’s experience as a sommelier is definitely in evidence with the restaurant’s 140-bottle premium wine list representing all 20 wine regions of Italy. Be sure to lean on the staff for advice on what to pair with the menu of straight-ahead Italian antipasti, insalate, pasta-based primi courses, and meat and seafood for the secondi main courses.
Starter highlights include fried gnocchi, octopus and potatoes, or an arugula salad with salty dried beef called bresaola. A creamy saffron risotto is made even more decadent by the addition of bone marrow butter and the spicy Bucatini all’Amatriciana is another excellent primi option reminiscent of a classic arrabbiata sauce.
Keeping in mind that Milan represents the North Star for this Northern Italian restaurant, the Cotoletta alla Milanese is an obvious choice for a main course, and there’s no shame in opting for the breaded veal chop with seasonal greens, but the Osso Bucco and Chicken Marsala are also classics worthy of your consideration.
Of course, you can’t forget the dolci section of the menu at the end of the meal. Choose from Italian stalwarts like tiramisu or panna cotta, or you can always end your meal with a bracing affogato al caffè, a lovely vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso. Another option would be to slide behind that curtain back to Brother Wolf for another sip of amaro, because those Italian spirits also aid with digestion. Plus, they stay open late at Brother Wolf, so your evening doesn’t have to end yet.
Discover more great Southern restaurants by visiting our archives.
Let’s take an international food tour without leaving the South this month! From the globally inspired diner fare of BOCADO in Charlotte, NC, to the modern Brazilian cuisine of Meridian in Dallas, TX, the region is embracing food that revels in influences from around the world. Of course, there’s always room for another good seafood spot around Charleston, and The Kingstide is an excellent new venture from a restaurant group that has an established track record of success with many restaurant favorites across the area. Pack your passport and follow along!
Worth the Drive: 3 New Restaurants in the South
BOCADO Bar + Diner
2000 South Blvd., Ste. 530, Charlotte, NC 28203 • (704) 248-0647
Hours: All-day menu — Every day, 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Happy hour — Monday through Friday, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Late night — Monday through Saturday, 10 p.m. to midnight; Weekend brunch starting at 10:30 a.m.
It’s tough to beat a good diner, especially if the kitchen makes a special effort to elevate the fare above typical greasy spoon cuisine. The new BOCADO Bar + Diner in Charlotte’s South End Atherton neighborhood offers up the eclectic variety of foods you’d expect from a proper diner including breakfast dishes like avocado toast, a darned fine burger that has won acclaim from national publications, and pasta dishes to soak up a little bit of the excellent cocktail, beer, and wine list. However, this third outpost of the Atlanta-based restaurant group exhibits a modern aesthetic and culinary approach to new Southern cuisine that belies the word “diner” in its name.
As soon as you walk through the door of the converted early 20th-century manufacturing building, it’s obvious that BOCADO pays close attention to the details, from the clubby leather furniture and twinking chandeliers to the heavy, flowing drapes that keep the din of diners down to a low roar. They describe their menu as an “all day” offering, which means they must sleep in late since it starts at 3:30 in the afternoon, but weekend brunch does kick off at 10:30 a.m. with an expanded menu for some morning fun. Late night and happy hour menus also feature a few special treats as well.
Chef Erik Lujan walks the fine line between healthy and slightly debaucherous fare with intriguing starters like a kale salad topped with buttermilk dressing and a classic summer watermelon salad made with tomatoes, Tomme cheese, mint, lime, and a little hint of heat from jalapeños. Classic deviled eggs are dressed up with pickled okra, shallots, and calabrese peppers for an updated take on that particular picnic staple, and even though the headquarters of BOCADO is in Georgia, their first Carolina location hints at the superiority of South Carolina peaches by roasting them and serving them with blue cheese, butter, vegetables, and bread.
Other excellent apps include fried oysters and creamy ham fritters made using Spanish serrano. Late-night visitors have access to some classic chilaquiles after they dim the lights for a more loungy vibe after 10 p.m., and they’re worth the wait!
Now, about that burger. The BOCADO double stack is a classic smashburger on a housemade bun, topped with gooey American cheese and bread-and-butter pickles. Pay the extra buck for a side of herbed fries for the full experience of one of the best restaurant burgers in the region. The kitchen also offers a slightly more elevated “Southern burger” with bibb lettuce and grilled onions for an upscale take on the classic.
The diner classic of grilled cheese also gets the BOCADO upgrade thanks to the use of three kinds of cheese including Comté, dry Jack, and Fromage blanc, plus smoky bacon and an egg on top. It’s worth rolling up your sleeves to enjoy this treat. Larger main plates worth serious consideration include local trout over a cauliflower puree and a pan-seared chicken thigh served with grits and collard greens. As you’d expect at a diner, the eclectic menu has to have at least one great pasta dish, and BOCADO’s version of carbonara fits the bill nicely. House-made bucatini pasta arrives hot to the table in a shiny sauce of egg yolk and crispy pancetta lardons plus local mushrooms, aged Parm, and just enough black pepper to brighten up the silky egg sauce.
Most of the menu will run you less than $20 for a plate, but the one big splurge is a limited-availability bone-in aged ribeye that weighs in at a pound and a half. The delightfully funky and fatty cut is balanced by the acid provided by some salsa verde and lemon, along with peppery arugula and a shower of shaved Parmesan. It’s big enough to split but also special enough to hoard.
So don’t be fooled when BOCADO modestly refers to itself as a diner. While the food is certainly approachable and affordable, it’s definitely more fine dining than diner!
5650 Village Glen Drive, Dallas, TX 75206 • (469) 659-6382
Hours: Dinner — Tuesday through Sunday, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Happy hour — Tuesday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
If your only idea of Brazilian food is the typical chain steak house with a salad bar big enough to be seen from space and a parade of gauchos wandering around the dining room with skewers of grilled meat to slice onto your plate, there’s a big surprise waiting for you in Dallas at Meridian. Speaking of big, even the term “Brazilian food” is as descriptively inaccurate as calling both San Diego fish tacos and Maine lobster rolls “American food.” Yes, they’re both from the same country, but from thousands of miles away, so there aren’t many similarities between them. Brazil is actually a larger landmass than the Lower 48 states of the U.S., so you would expect great variations in cooking styles across the country.
Meridian demonstrates many of the elements of modern Brazilian cuisine. Executive Chef Junior Borges draws influences from the melting pot of indigenous peoples, Europeans, and Africans that populated colonial Brazil and came together to create the country’s varied population of today. In modern times, Brazilian chefs also draw inspiration and flavors from European countries outside of Portugal, like Italy and France, as well as Asian and Middle Eastern influences.
“Americans are surprised to learn that Brazil has literally the largest Japanese population outside of Japan,” says Chef Borges, “and the greatest number of people of Italian descent outside of Italy.”
Chef Borges grew up in a small town north of Rio where he learned to cook using whatever food came through the door, often in the hands of his doctor father’s patients in the form of payment. His cooking is also influenced by the African/Caribbean inspirations of the cuisine of Bahia, the Brazilian state with the longest coastline, and thus a real emphasis on seafood.
Meridian opened late this spring in The Village, a premium residential development north of downtown. The design of the restaurant is intimate and airy at the same time, seating 80 patrons inside plus an additional 35 on an adjacent patio. Alfresco diners might even spy the kitchen staff harvesting from the nearby chef’s garden, seeking fresh ingredients for a dish.
The pavilion-like dining area surrounds a show kitchen, highlighted by a wood-fired hearth. Open fire is an important part of Brazilian cooking, and chef Borges takes advantage of the process to add kisses of smoke to the house-made hot sauce that perks up an appetizer of cheese fritters and country ham. Several large plates are cooked on the hearth including a whole grilled octopus served with green garlic and chile vinaigrette. If you still want a little (well, a big) taste of the churrasco experience, order the Snake River Farms dry-aged Wagyu bone-in ribeye hot of the grill for a decadent treat.
Borges demonstrates great restraint when the dish calls for it, like the minimalist kohlrabi “Caesar” made with fried-egg aioli, mint, aged pecorino, and herb bread crumbs. Moqueca, a Bahian classic seafood dish, features prawns in a charred plantain and coconut broth with rich red dende oil. Paired with a bottle from Meridian’s deep wine list or a caipirinha from the bar, that bowl of moqueca is a wonderful representation of the past, present, and future of Brazilian cuisine.
32 River Landing Dr., Daniel Island, SC 29492 • (843) 216-3832
Hours: Monday, Wednesday & Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday noon to 10 p.m.; Closed Tuesday
In a city as well known for fantastic seafood like Charleston, SC, opening another seafood restaurant might seem like a risky proposition. But The Kingstide is a new project from The Indigo Road Hospitality Group, a powerhouse collection of restaurants around Charleston and other Southeastern cities.
With experience creating steakhouses like Oak, sushi-centric restaurants such as O-ku, and Italian and Mexican spots like Indaco and Maya, Indigo Road has the team to tackle the project. Another odd circumstance around The Kingstide is that, despite the fact that it is located on Daniel Island, which is surrounded by the Cooper and Wando Rivers, this is actually the only waterfront restaurant on the entire 4,000-acre island. Management takes great advantage of that fact with lots of patio seating adjacent to the two-story restaurant, offering views of the Wando rolling by. Executive Chef Kevin Getzewich takes inspiration from his surroundings to create a seafood-centric menu of Lowcountry and open ocean cuisine, which depends on the freshest available ingredients delivered from the boat to the kitchen.
A king’s tide is the name for an especially high tide, usually during the spring, so it only makes sense to start your own Kingstide experience as high as you can get with a cocktail at the rooftop bar. In addition to classic and frozen drinks, the bar also offers a nice selection of wines by the glass or by the bottle, plus a tight menu of craft beers. The bar is also a fine spot for some pre-dinner snacks from the special menu of small bites ranging from oysters Rockefeller and hushpuppies to pickled shrimp and lobster rolls.
Don’t fill up on snacks though, because the main event awaits you at your dining room table as you investigate Chef Getzewich’s almost exclusively seafood-based menu. (But yes, there is a quite-good steak frites dish on the menu for anyone who didn’t catch the drift of the name, or the fact that the restaurant is on an island.)
Notable starters include fried calamari for the table, salmon rillettes, and a single-serving bowl of crab fried rice that could be shared, but which will probably be eaten by whoever was smart enough to order it. A soup course of a Lowcountry chowder showcases the smokiness of Nueske’s bacon, a surprising addition considering that it hails from Wisconsin, but that bacon sure does go well with the potatoes and peppers in the chowder.
Seafood towers are available in three sizes depending on the appetite of the table, but all three options include peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters, clams, and crab. If you want to mix and match in different quantities, you can always order from the raw bar section of the menu that also includes treats like lobster tails and Alaskan King crab.
For main dishes, it’s always wise to put yourself in the hands of the kitchen with the seasonal fish special. You know they’ll serve the freshest fish they can find, poached in nage sauce and accompanied by English peas, pine nuts, and whipped potatoes. Ahi lovers can enjoy an Asian-inspired seared tuna steak with bok choy, pickled shiitakes, and oyster vinaigrette, while a campfire trout is a more traditional American presentation with bacon and fingerling potatoes.
Many of the shareable sides benefit from an open fire, like the roasted carrots and the grilled broccoli rabe — and be sure to consider an order of the house-pickled vegetables to offer a little acid to cut through some of the fried food on the menu. Aww, who are we kidding? We know you’ll want an extra order of hushpuppies and crispy potatoes for the table. Go ahead and do that!
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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.”
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.
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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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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s to new dining endeavors!
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