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The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous)

The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous)

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by Chris Chamberlain

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Thirteen states, 100 chefs, and 134 recipes later, one thing is clear: the food of the American South tells a story that spans the distance from New Orleans to Louisville, Little Rock to Charleston, Nashville to Dallas, and every city in between. The Southern Foodie explores a hearty swath of the South’s culinary culture, following its roots and


Thirteen states, 100 chefs, and 134 recipes later, one thing is clear: the food of the American South tells a story that spans the distance from New Orleans to Louisville, Little Rock to Charleston, Nashville to Dallas, and every city in between. The Southern Foodie explores a hearty swath of the South’s culinary culture, following its roots and exploring its evolution in the region’s best restaurants.

 Meet the people who are keeping the tradition alive and reinventing the flavors of the South. Swing on down to the Gulf Coast, and wade into a chef’s wonderland of fresh seafood and spicy heat. Check out the culinary creativity in the Carolinas, where you’ll find traditional smoked pork barbecue alongside Southern favorites made with fresh, local produce. Explore the restaurant kitchens of Atlanta and Nashville, where the chefs aren’t shy about fusing comfort food standards with international flair and unexpected techniques. Join Chris Chamberlain for access to the South’s best recipes and the kitchens where they were developed.

  • Jalapeño-and-Cheese-Stuffed Grit Cakes from Mason’s Grill, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Roasted Heirloom Pumpkin with Mulled Sorghum Glaze from Capitol Grille, Nashville, TN
  • Country Ham Fritters from Proof on Main, Louisville, KY
  • Blue Crab Cheesecake from Old Firehouse Restaurant, Hollywood, SC
  • Apricot Fried Pies from Penguin Ed’s Bar-B-Q, Fayetteville, AR

The Southern Foodie shows you where the South eats and how to create those distinct flavors at home. You’re sure to rediscover old favorites and get a closer look at the delicious new traditions in Southern cuisine.

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100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous)

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Chris Chamberlain and Bryan Curtis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-0170-6

Chapter One


Cotton Row 2 Fox Valley Restaurant 4 Garrett's—The Art of Food 6 Highlands Bar and Grill 9 Hot and Hot Fish Club 11 Irondale Café—The Original Whistle Stop Café 14 LuLu's at Homeport 16 Mountain Laurel Inn 20 The Waysider 23 Wintzell's Oyster House 25


100 Southside Square Huntsville, AL 38501 (256) 382-9500 www.cottonrowrestaurant.com

Chef James Boyce's Cotton Row Restaurant is located in a charming three-story brick building right on the courthouse square of Huntsville, Alabama. The edifice dates back to 1821, when it was constructed alongside the old cotton exchange. The romantically rustic ambiance makes Cotton Row a favorite date night locale for Huntsville residents and visitors looking for a unique dining experience with an emphasis on the Southern hospitality of days gone by.

No matter how spectacular the décor might be, it is overshadowed by what the kitchen puts on the plate. Trained at Le Cirque in New York City, Chef Boyce has created an upscale menu of seasonal regional specialties. The list of entrées emphasizes seafood and inventively prepared game and beef dishes. If your appetite or your wallet doesn't allow for that much food, Cotton Row is also open for lunch with smaller portions and creative sandwich options.

In the nineteenth century a "ploughman's lunch" was a cold midday meal, usually consisting of a chunk of cheese, a pickle, and a piece of bread. At Cotton Row you can expect a lot more from the Ploughman's Specials, which are small plates that can be ordered as an appetizer or combined to create a tapas-like meal. They are also excellent for sharing if your dining companions are generous types.

Desserts have a more international flavor than the rest of the menu, but you won't be disappointed by the fact that you've left the country on your culinary tour as you enjoy treats like Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée and plates of exotic cheeses accented with seventy-five-year-old balsamic vinegar.

Groups that are looking for private dining options at Cotton Row can enjoy a meal in the Cedar Pipe Cellar beneath the main dining room. This huge wine cellar houses the restaurant's collection of almost five thousand bottles. Special menus can be constructed around patrons' particular wine choices, or lucky diners can place themselves in the capable hands of the chef as he creates unique tasting menus. A meal in the Cedar Pipe Cellar also includes a tour of the kitchen where the magic happens.

With a modern menu steeped in old Southern traditions and a location in a historic building less than five miles from the US Space and Rocket Center, Cotton Row might seem like a place of contradictions. The truth is that it maintains a wonderful balance between old and new that has allowed it to become a real star in the Rocket City.

CUISINE: American cuisine with strong Southern influences

ATMOSPHERE: Seductive and historic

SPECIALTIES: Seafood, especially Scallops

INSIDER TIP: If you're a Martha Stewart fan, watch her magazine and her network for frequent contributions by Chef Boyce.


3 tablespoons olive oil 3 to 4 pounds bottom-round or top-round roast 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon pepper 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch pieces 1 stalk celery, cut into 3/4-inch pieces 1 large carrot, cut into 3/4-inch pieces 1 sprig fresh rosemary 2 sprigs fresh thyme 2 bay leaves 3 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ cup all-purpose flour 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes 2 cups beef broth 1 cup quartered assorted mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 300°. Place a large casserole dish (with a cover) over medium-high heat on the stovetop and add the olive oil. Season the roast with the salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, brown the meat on all sides and then remove the meat from the casserole dish. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrot to the casserole dish and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until slightly brown. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and butter, and cook until the butter is melted. Lower the heat to low and sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly and scraping the pan so the flour does not stick, for 2 minutes. Add the vinegar to the casserole dish and cook until the vinegar is reduced to one-third. Add the tomatoes and crush lightly with a spoon. Add the beef stock and mushrooms and stir until the ingredients are well mixed. Return the roast to the dish and cover. Cook on low heat for 2½ to 3 hours, until the meat is fork-tender. Remove from the oven and let the pot roast cool in the liquid before slicing and serving.



6745 Highway 17 Helena, AL 35114 (205) 664-8341 www.birminghammenus.com/foxvalley

You have to slow down when you're looking for the Fox Valley Restaurant or you're liable to drive right by. Located between a gas station and a liquor store, this hole-in-the-wall gem serves some of the best seafood in Alabama at amazingly affordable prices. About a half hour south of downtown Birmingham, Fox Valley offers fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients. With an exceptional wine list to accompany the menu, diners can receive all the benefits of a fancy white-tablecloth dining experience without paying uptown prices.

Particular specialties of the house are the Crab Cakes served with brown garlic butter. There are even those who will hold up the Fox Valley's Crab Cakes against the best from Maryland. Those are fighting words, but if you listen to the calls going into the line chefs, you'll hear the "Steak and Cake" combo called over and over again.

The co-owners and executive chefs, Sue Lemieux and Anthony Mangold, met years ago when they were cooking together in a restaurant in Athens, Georgia. They respected each other's culinary ideals and knew they had to start a cooking venture together. After operating a business baking desserts and breads for Birmingham-area restaurants for a few years, Sue and Anthony decided to make the leap of faith and open Fox Valley.

Their concept of combining local produce and fresh seafood together in interesting ways was immediately welcomed by the Birmingham dining community.

Creative appetizers range from ice-cold Watermelon and Peach Soup to a savory Fried Stuffed Mirliton filled with sautéed shrimp and smoked sausage. Main dishes revolve around many of the same seafood elements that make up the outstanding starters. The aforementioned Steak and Cake pairs the garlicky goodness of the crab cake with a char-grilled filet mignon. Gulf fish like red snapper, triggerfish, and scamp often make appearances on the nightly specials.

Thanks to their wholesale bakery background providing sweets and treats for over thirty of Birmingham's best restaurants, you know that the chefs can create some outstanding desserts and breads. The dessert menu changes almost every day, but you can't go wrong if you see Anthony's Strawberry Shortcake on the list.

Feel free to drop in wearing your casual clothes or dressed to impress. At the Fox Valley Restaurant, the emphasis is on what's on the plate. Step through this particular hole-in-the-wall and you'll find yourself in a diners' wonderland.

CUISINE: Fried seafood, burgers, and sandwiches

ATMOSPHERE: Fine dining in a nonpretentious environment

SPECIALTIES: Steak and Cake

INSIDER TIP: If you happen to find out that the Fox Valley's addictive Crack Pie is on the dessert menu, order it in advance because the kitchen staff has been known to eat most of it before dinner even begins.


1 small ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and chopped into chunks 1 cup heavy cream ¼ cup lime juice 1 teaspoon lime zest Sugar (optional, depending on ripeness of cantaloupe) Fresh raspberries for garnish Fresh mint for garnish

Purée the cantaloupe in a food processor or blender, in batches if necessary, until liquefied. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in the cream, lime juice, lime zest, and a little sugar if necessary. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours. Place 6 serving bowls in the freezer until ready to serve. Ladle the soup into the frozen bowls and garnish each serving with raspberries and a sprig of mint.


Note: Although this soup is offered as a starter at Fox Valley, many people order it as a light, refreshing dessert.


7780 Atlanta Highway Montgomery, AL (205) 758-8135 www.garrettsartoffood.com

Located in the capital city of Alabama, Garrett's was opened in 1995 by Chef Gary Garner, who set out to create a restaurant that would establish itself as the capital of Montgomery dining. With an inventive bar, a spacious modern dining area, and an original menu full of well-executed dishes, Garrett's has achieved that goal, according to plenty of Montgomery diners. Thanks to a sleek design scheme that features dark wood and shiny metal furniture and a bar with an actual waterfall cascading down the back wall, Garrett's could be easily mistaken for a trendy Manhattan bistro.

"The Art of Food" is more than just part of the name at this beautiful art deco location on the east side of Montgomery. It's also the mantra that the kitchen repeats with every dish as it creates artfully crafted presentations of exquisite food. Luckily, in contrast to other chichi restaurants where it seems like there is a contest to be the biggest minimalist and place as little food as possible on huge white plates, the folks at Garrett's believe in serving a healthy portion of food with actual side dishes instead of foam or a swirl of flavored oil for a garnish.

The food is not only beautiful, but delicious too. The Center-Cut Filet Mignon with Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce is so tender that you can cut it with a fork and comes accompanied with both smashed potatoes and a medley of seasonal vegetables. Chef Garner features at least two fish dishes daily based on what looks like the freshest fare from his fishmongers. If you happen to visit on a day when he's preparing Pecan-Crusted Grouper, count your lucky stars.

Desserts are decadent and big enough to share. Some of the best happen to have spirits as a major component, so you can have your after-dinner drink in a bowl in the form of New Orleans–Style White Chocolate Bread Pudding that comes smothered in whiskey sauce, or the famous Pecan Pie Martini served with Jack Daniel's ice cream.

Rare for a fine dining establishment like Garrett's, a midday meal is also served with a choice of entrée and two sides for an elegant affordable lunch. The businesspeople of Montgomery are lucky to have this sort of option available to them. Any extra opportunity to enjoy the food at a place this unique is definitely a good thing.

CUISINE: Sophisticated dishes to stimulate all five senses

ATMOSPHERE: Hip and modern

SPECIALTIES: Filet Mignon with Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce, New Orleans–Style White Chocolate Bread Pudding

INSIDER TIP: Garrett's offers an Early Dining menu with appetizers and entrées at about half off the dinner prices. It pays to skip lunch.


32 scallops ½ cup dry fish seasoning

Black Bean and Mango Salsa (recipe follows)

Clean the scallops and detach the side muscle if necessary. Spray a medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat the skillet over high heat until very hot (no oil or butter is needed). Sprinkle the scallops evenly with the dry fish seasoning. Depending on the size of the scallops, cook for 3 to 4 minutes on one side, until the scallops are evenly browned. Turn off the heat, flip the scallops over and cover. Allow the scallops to rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook or the scallops will become very tough. Serve the scallops on a bed of Arugula greens topped with Black Bean and Mango Salsa.



½ cup olive oil ¼ cup rice vinegar Juice of 1 lime 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic 1 (12-ounce) can black beans, drained 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced ½ cup diced red bell pepper ½ cup diced red onion 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro Salt and pepper

In a large bowl emulsify or gradually whisk together the oil, vinegar, lime juice, and garlic to create a dressing. Fold the black beans, mangoes, bell pepper, red onion, chives, cilantro, salt, and pepper into the dressing. Serve as a dip or as a topping for broiled or grilled fish.



2011 11th Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35205 (205) 939-1400 www.highlandsbarandgrill.com

Under the auspices of executive chef/ owner Frank Stitt, Highlands Bar and Grill is consistently ranked among one of the top restaurants in the entire country. Chef Stitt is a perennial nominee for the James Beard Awards for Best Restaurant in the region and won the Beard Award as Best Chef in the Southeast in 2001. In addition to opening two other successful Birmingham restaurants, Chez Fonfon and Bottega, Chef Stitt stills runs the kitchen at Highlands, where he serves a menu that changes daily based on the freshest seasonal ingredients available.

The menu is crafted with dishes designed to feature the flavors of the region's unique foods, often through the use of fine French culinary techniques and presentations. The chicken offering on the menu may appear as "Poulet Rouge with a Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto," but that yard bird isn't necessarily as highfalutin as it sounds. That chicken was pecking around in some Alabama red clay last week. The seafood dishes are similar, with classic European treatments of the freshest fish from the Gulf of Mexico or nearby streams and lakes.

Unlike at some other fancy restaurants, the menu descriptions reveal many common ingredients that you will recognize, but in unexpected and sublime combinations. An order of Seared Scallops, for example, might be accompanied by an old-fashioned Hoppin' John made with field peas, okra, cherry tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. In your bread basket crusty French rolls nestle happily side by side with crackling cornbread muffins.

If you do have any questions about the ingenious menu, the top-notch waitstaff is both informed about and interested in the food being served and genuinely wants diners to have the best experience possible. Chef Stitt is also known as a master in the field of food and wine pairings and offers a voluminous wine list to ensure that just the right bottle will be available to embellish the flavors on your plate.

Birmingham residents consider themselves very lucky that a native Alabama son like Chef Stitt chose to return home after studying fine cooking in California, France, and Italy. Gastronomes all over the country also recognize the jewel that resides in the Magic City and have been beating a path down Interstate 65 for years to enjoy the transcendent food of Highlands Bar and Grill.

CUISINE: Southern ingredients cooked with French sensibility and techniques

ATMOSPHERE: Classy with impeccable service

SPECIALTIES: Stone-Ground Baked Grits, North Carolina Fish Muddle

INSIDER TIP: Definitely make reservations in advance, but go ahead and arrive early for a wonderfully crafted cocktail before dinner in the lively Highlands bar. After all, bar is one-third of the restaurant's name.


Excerpted from THE SOUTHERN FOODIE by CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN Copyright © 2012 by Chris Chamberlain and Bryan Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Chris Chamberlain is a food and drink writer basedin Nashville, Tennessee, where he has lived his entire life except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned how to manipulate chopsticks. He is a regular writer for the Nashville Scene and their "Bites" food blog. He has also contributed to the Nashville City Paper , Nashville Lifestyles magazine, 2001 Edgehill and atwww.geardiary.com. One of his favorite things in life to do is to put a shoulder on the smoker and watch SEC football all day long while waiting for his pork reach "pig-picking" temperature as slowly as possible.

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The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I travel a lot, especially down South, and have eaten at several of the places in this book. I haven't had time to cook any of the recipes, but it is definitely on my list of things to do. If you like to travel and eat the local food, this is the book for you, and if you like to cook, this will make you very happy, as they have some of the famous recipes listed. Sub Bill
Morgie More than 1 year ago
Southern food, like its hospitality, traditions and stories are well established and comforting. As the Baltimore born granddaughter and niece of two wonderful Southern cooks I was introduced to hearty breakfast plates that included a bowlful of homemade biscuits and jams, fried chicken or fried pork chops, gravy, eggs ... and pie. For one week each summer in July my world took on a different hue and taste. Dinner was served at noon and the produce was fresh and plentiful from the garden. It is easy to recollect the large brightly cloth-covered tables and platters of corn on the cob swimming in butter, meats (often more than one kind), mashed potatoes, steaming bowls of succotash, crisp coleslaw, peaches, slices of watermelon and mounds of freshly baked dinner rolls. All homemade and hearty and proudly served. Reading The Southern Foodie (and looking at the pictures) makes it easy to remember sitting at my favorite aunt's table. Her name was Irene Moore and she was beautiful, charming, and a gifted cook. She made is seem effortless, one minute she would be sitting on the back porch snapping green beans and in the next sharing the foods of her labor. Her meals were only one reason I considered my three cousins as extremely lucky. The food and the stories gathered in this collection make it a great addition to any cooks bookcase. There are recipes for cornbreak, tomato corn chowder, coconut pie, peach cobbler, tomato gravy, grits, and pot roast. Take an afternoon and spend it with Chris Chamberlain ... you won't be sorry. If you're planning on traveling in any of the "thirteen Southern states" check out their most celebrated restuarants. Chris Chamberlain is a food and drink writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. He has served as a culinary judge at numerous competitions around the South and consulted with several restaurants regarding menu creation and marketing. One of his favorite things in life to do is to put a shoulder on the smoker and watch SEC football all day long while waiing for his porck to reach "pig-picking" temperature as slowly as possible. A copy of The Southern Foodie was provided by the publisher Thomas Nelson for review purposes. The words are my own.
themiraclesnook More than 1 year ago
The Southern Foodie -100 Place Eat to Eat in the South before You Die (and the recipes that made them famous) .This book makes you want to grab your best friend and this book and start a food crawl across the south. The author Chris Chamberlain has traveled and written about the places and the food that he loved in the south. You travel through 13 states with the author as you read this cook book and you get the best recipes from the restaurants. The book has great pictures with the recipes to and that is a must for me in a cook book. I love cook books with pictures. I think I might have to make the Redeye Shrimp and Grits from the Westport General Store in Westport KY. or maybe the Fruity Beer Can Chicken from JB Smokehouse on Johns Island SC. Maybe I need to travel a few hours to Fort Smith Arkansas and try the Yellow Crooked Neck Squash at the Calico Country Restaurant or to Penguin Ed’s Bar- B-Q in Fayetteville I mean who doesn’t want to try white chocolate brownies anyway. I just loved this book but I must say I am extremely partial to cook books with pictures that have recipes that have ingredients that you can get at the normal grocery store and that are easy or moderate to make. I just had fun dreaming of places to go. I give this book my four star rating. I must also let you know that I received a complementary copy of this b book from Book Sneeze for my honest opinion and review. The review I have written are just that my honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Southern Foodie is an interesting addition to any cookbook collection. It would also be a fun book to have on hand while planning a vacation traveling across the states listed in the book! This book lists some noteworthy places to eat across 13 of the southern states. The book is broken down by state. Within each state is listed an average of a half dozen places to eat that are worth pulling off the freeway for. Listed under each restaurant is the address, phone umber, email address, a brief description of what makes the place worth stopping at, a description of the cuisine and atmosphere, its specialties, and an insider tip (whether or not to make a reservation, etc). Then, each restaurant has shared one or two recipes from their menu for you to try! As far as the recipes go, I found that many of them had ingredients that I'd either never heard of or don't ordinarily stock in my kitchen. This was not a huge surprise to me as I stock a fairly simple, down-home kitchen with mostly just the basics and I know that. But I'm not sure that I will get much practical cooking use out of this book without adapting the recipes to use ingredients that are either available in my town or that I already have on hand. That said, there were some yummy looking dishes (from appetizers, main courses, and side dishes, to salads and desserts)! I will be sure to try at least a few of these tasty treats in my own home! I received this book free from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze blogger book review program and am under no obligation to provide a positive review.
GardeningGal More than 1 year ago
I love Southern cooking. It means comfort food to me. The Southern Foodie by Chris Chamberlain combines two of my favorite things … home cooking and exploring new restaurants that serve delicious food. The recipes in this book come from 13 different states and draw from some of the best food establishments in the South. This recipe book is unique. It has recipes of course, but it also has interesting facts about each restaurant including comments on the atmosphere, specialties, and insider tips. It can be used as a food travel guide. The bonus is that you also get to cook these tried and true recipes in your own kitchen. This is more than just a cookbook. I love to travel, so I can see myself seeking out some of these restaurants to have a firsthand experience; ordering the food I recreated in my own kitchen. Now stop reading my review, get the book and start cooking … or if you prefer, it’s time for a foodie road trip! I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
inspiremichelle More than 1 year ago
This review is from: The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous) (Paperback) I won a copy of this cookbook. It was a great surprise, but not what I expected. Full of recipes, with a history of the restaurant that serves it. It was like taking a tour of the South. Love it and can not wait to get in the kitchen, or even better taking a road trip to one of these hot spots to taste their creation. I live about 2 hours away from one spot and am thinking about a visit to it.
lovetoteachLB More than 1 year ago
The Southern Foodie is a cookbook by Chris Chamberlain. It summarizes 100 places to eat in the South. Chris has travelled to these locations and has compiled a book of some of the delicious recipes that were shared with him. I got this book mainly because I and my husband have a motorcycle and we love to try new places to eat. We live in Arkansas so I was hoping to get alot of ideas of restaurants to try out. I can't say that happened as he only had a couple in the area we live in. But at the same time there are some great ideas for when we leave the Arkansas area in our travels. I know that probably the main reason for the book was more for the recipes and it does have an impressive list of the 100 restaurants in the southern states including Texas and Florida. I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for an advance reading as part of their Booksneeze bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review and therefore, the book review is 100% my own opinion.