This time of year farmer’s markets are teeming with vibrant fruits and veggies. Spring marks that time when, if you’re a chef, planning a seasonal menu is just downright fun.
South on Main’s executive chef Matthew Bell explains, “This is, for every chef, I think the favorite menu to write. Everything is alive, everything is so bright and colorful.”
As soon as Bell starts seeing the season’s fresh produce, he gets ready to start writing. This year it was Zephyr Squash and Fava Beans that really got him going, thanks to his partnerships with local farmers.
He says, “I think that we have forged a relationship with a lot of really great farmers and producers, so … we seem to get a great response to people coming to the restaurant and dropping things off for us to work with.”
This menu is full of delicious options. While you can expect many of the same proteins – think pork chop, trout, and duck – the way they’re dressed are different. Bell does this to be able to ensure he can work with his local meat providers year-round. Plus, people like a little continuity.
He says, “That way we’re always utilizing the stuff we know we can get from local farmers – for example, through the Grass Roots Cooperative.”
It’s hard to know where to start with this menu, but you can’t go wrong with the Fried Oyster Steamed Buns. Bell says, “I’m excited about this one – we’ve got a great steam bun recipe – so far we’ve been able to execute it well.” Plus, the much-loved Trotters are definitely a treat for your taste buds. This time around they come with angnolotti, fennel, garlic, celery and pork jus.
If you’re really hungry, try the Rabbit Leg and Country Ham Wrapped Loin. Together with carrot puree, arugula, radish, fennel and pesto, this dish is as delicious as it is vibrant. You also can’t go wrong with the Seared Pork Chop, which comes with a elegantly golden stacked side of onion rings atop warm potato salad.
If you’d rather have fish, try the Trout, which comes with confit fingerling, South on Main bacon, and grilled broccoli with lemon. There’s also a Pan Seared Catfish option, which is paired perfectly with grit sticks, three bean salad and sorghum vinaigrette.
Bell is most excited about the Crawfish and Cornmeal Spaetzle, as he’s utilizing a method he learned under Chef Cassidee Dabnee. He says, “When we cook our spaetzle we use pickled red onion, and we glaze the spaetzle with that and then mount it with butter. It’s really the components of vinaigrette but instead of using an oil you’re using butter. The onions are slightly sweet so you get this kind of sweet, salty, and then earthy taste from the fava beans all together – that’s my favorite dish right there.”
If you weren’t hungry before reading this you definitely are now. Make plans to visit South on Main for dinner soon and try the new offerings yourself.