EDITOR’S NOTE: As we continue to move through the pandemic’s various reopening phases throughout the South, it’s important to remember operating hours and mask-wearing rules can change quickly depending on location and local mandates. Please check with the restaurant you intend to visit beforehand to ensure you have the most current operating hours and information.

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Despite the struggles of many restaurants over the past year, it’s not all gloom and doom in culinary news. In fact, some pretty remarkable new restaurant projects have opened featuring acclaimed chefs sharing their visions of new Southern cuisine. If you’re looking to hit the road again soon for a getaway, here are three new spots worthy of your consideration as you put together an eat-inerary.

3 New Southern Restaurants to Put on Your Radar

The Appalachian

133 Bruce Street, Sevierville, TN 37862 • (865) 505-0245
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday

Chef David Rule has worked in the kitchens of some of the most prestigious restaurants in East Tennessee, including Blackberry Farm in Walland and Dancing Bear Lodge in nearby Townsend. He also served as executive chef and partner at The Walnut Kitchen in Maryville before moving on to his latest project, The Appalachian.

Located in the historic downtown of the vacation mecca of Sevierville, The Appalachian is Rule’s homage to the regional cuisine of East Tennessee, and the chef has lined up a roster of more than 20 small local farms and purveyors to ensure the authenticity of the ingredients he uses to create his menu of seasonal fare.

“We are bringing a contemporary Southern Appalachian culinary farm-to-table experience to Sevierville,” says Rule. “To preserve and honor the flavors of this amazing region, we have partnered with so many talented purveyors across the Southeast. It is an honor to work with these artisans to bring their special products to life each day.”

Interior of The Appalachian, a new Southern restaurant

The interior of The Appalachian – Image: Facebook

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Working alongside his wife Cara and partners Austin and Katie Williams, Chef David Rule brings fine dining to a town that is better known for down-home casual restaurants, and the initial response has been extremely positive!

Situated in an attractive brick building just a block away from the iconic statue of hometown hero Dolly Parton, The Appalachian features more than 4,000 square feet of indoor dining plus another 2,500 square feet of patio space where diners can comfortably enjoy their meals socially distanced. The interior of the restaurant is decorated in attractive dark tones of wood, brass and stone to create a cozy vibe despite the expansive dining space. The atmosphere is also perfumed by the sweet smoke from an open wood-burning hearth that flavors many of the roasted meats and vegetables on the menu.

A meal at The Appalachian is like a trip through the flavors of the region but with all sorts of novel twists. Kitchen staples like butter beans appear in the appetizers, whipped into a creamy hummus served with raw veggies and crispy bread for dipping. Another fine shareable starter is the blue crab dip served with Old Bay potato chips. Trout is the primary fish of the East Tennessee mountains, and Chef Rule dresses his with vinegar, greens and onions plus spiced pecans and grilled strawberries.

The hearth is put to great use grilling steaks served a la carte. Pick your cut from a list that includes flights, ribeyes, strips, and porterhouses, and then pair them with side dishes like grilled broccolini, roasted garlic kale or buttermilk mashed potatoes. No matter what you choose from the menu at The Appalachian, you’re certain to receive an authentic taste of the region.

Grilled hanger steak from The Appalachian, a new Southern restaurant

Mouthwatering grilled hanger steak is a star on the menu. Image: Facebook

Spring cocktails from The Appalachian

The Appalachian serves inspired spring cocktails like The Wildflower, The Red Bud, and The Foxfire. Image: Instagram

The Betty

374 East Paces Ferry Road Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30305 • (470) 531-8902
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In addition to their dedication to bold design and architecture, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants are also known for a commitment to providing innovative dining opportunities for their guests and diners. At Kimpton’s Sylvan Hotel property in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, a striking new restaurant named The Betty recently opened.

Conceived as a modern reimagining of a traditional supper club, The Betty exudes a midcentury modern vibe with lots of hardwood and furniture that would look right at home at a party thrown by The Rat Pack at Ol’ Blue Eyes’ Palm Springs home. The cocktail program at The Betty features various riffs on the classic martini along with other classic concoctions and new inventions. A stellar wine list includes many by-the-glass options rarely seen in a restaurant setting.

Booths at The Betty, a new Southern restaurant

The interior of The Betty – Image: Cris Molina for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Chef Brandon Chavannes is the man charged with elevating a list of supper club stalwarts into spectacular modern dishes. With experience in some of the finest restaurants in New York and Atlanta, such as Bar Boulud, The Russian Tea Room, and St. Cecilia, Chavannes is certainly up to the task.

Scanning just the titles on the menu reads like a 1950s restaurant review, with classics: Wedge Salad, Chicken Liver Tartine, Spaghetti and Clams, Shrimp Cocktail, and Lasagna. That is until you realize that the chef has simply used these old-school menu items only as a jumping-off point to create modern cuisine, innovatively prepared and artfully plated.

That wedge salad? It’s finished with a healthy portion of California’s legendary Pointe Reyes blue cheese to add the perfect tang. There’s no sign of small, flavorless shrimp crammed into ice — The Betty’s shrimp cocktail is a work of art. Three large prawns are dramatically plated under thin wafers sitting like saddles on their backs and topped with pickled lime and avocado aioli.

Shrimp cocktail from The Betty

An artful and inventive take on the shrimp cocktail | Image: Andrew Thomas Lee

In addition to more traditional entrées like Striped Bass, Poached Halibut, and the delightfully rich Duck Magret, The Betty offers a few showstoppers that they call Grand Plates. These include the Grilled USDA Prime Ribeye, weighing in at more than a pound, Long Tail Prime Porterhouse with the filet and strip sections carved in the kitchen for easing sharing, and the Whole Salt-Crusted Fish, which changes based on the best and freshest available product.

No meal at The Betty is complete without partaking in one of their pastry dishes and perhaps a glass of dessert wine or a cocktail from their vivacious drink menu. After all, this cuisine has taken decades to evolve from 1950s supper club to today at The Betty, so why would you ever hurry to leave?

Porterhouse steak from The Betty, a new Southern restaurant

A steak pre-cut in the kitchen makes sharing easy. Image: Andrew Thomas Lee

Ovide

1 Grand Sandestin Blvd., Miramar Beach, FL, 32550 • (850) 351-3030
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Fine dining options abound along the Florida Panhandle, but with James Beard Award-winning chef Hugh Acheson’s latest salvo in the culinary competition, the scene just got even better. Acheson recently opened Ovide, the showcase restaurant at the new Hotel Effie Sandestin. Creating what he calls a “South Waltonic” style of cuisine, the chef takes full advantage of the bountiful Gulf Coast seafood and combines it with classic French techniques to present an innovative hybrid of a menu.

Although Acheson is best known for his elevated Southern food at some of his other restaurants like Atlanta’s Empire State South and Five & Ten in Athens, his foray into French gastronomy isn’t much of a stretch. The Canadian-born chef has plenty of French-cooking experience in the kitchens of Ottawa as a young chef, and French food has long inspired his style in the kitchen. And because wine is key in French cuisine, and a proper bottle paired with seafood can elevate the entire experience, Acheson has charged his talented longtime wine team with designing a list filled with interesting options from various small American vintners.

The airy dining room at Ovide features tall doors that open to an additional alfresco patio space, and charming butcher block-style tables are reminiscent of a casual French bistro. A striking floral mural on the ceiling contributes to the romantic atmosphere without feeling too fussy. This is the beach, after all!

Interior of Ovide, a new Southern restaurant

Note the floral mural on the ceiling at Ovide. The ambiance is definitely romantic. Image: Visit South Walton

Ovide hasn’t taken long to establish its personality as a restaurant, remaining laser-focused on fresh seafood plus a few excellent terrestrial dishes. Shellfish dominate the starters section of the menu, with oysters served raw on the half shell or roasted Rockefeller-style. Shrimp show up as part of a classic shrimp cocktail and are tartly pickled in a salad topped with young celery, buttermilk dressing, avocado and boiled egg. The star of the appetizers is the delicately prepared Snapper Crudo with sweet white fish alongside compressed cucumber and charred scallions to create a plate as beautiful as it is delicious.

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The grouper is also a highlight of the main dishes, roasted until a delightful crust is formed and accompanied by toothy farro verde and a gremolata made from pickled satsumas. Grilled mahi-mahi shows up with an Asian-inspired soy vinaigrette and a spring panzanella salad. Meat eaters can opt for other proteins like pork chops, duck, or filet mignon, but that’s not why you came to the beach in the first place, is it?

Acheson tries to spend time in the kitchens at each of the restaurants he owns and manages, yet he does keep a pretty busy schedule writing cookbooks and appearing on television shows like “Top Chef.” But when he’s deciding which spot he wants to visit next, you have to imagine that a trip to the Emerald Coast has got to rise to the top of his list, so expect Ovide to maintain the level of excellence that all of Acheson’s ventures are known for.

Here’s to new dining endeavors! 

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