Southern Coastal Cuisine
Where to take a Napa CIA grad to lunch? Bistro V
By Jan Walsh
I recently partnered with Ada Ruth Huntley in my upcoming AuburnRestaurants.com and Auburn Restaurants App venture. When making plans to meet for our first business lunch, I considered that she is not only a former Auburn SAG President and graduate, but also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, California. I have visited this wonderful place years ago for a wine lecture and understand its rich history and prestigious reputation. So, I could not take her just anywhere for lunch. It had to be a chef driven restaurant. Bistro V’s chef, Jeremy Downey played on the 1992 University of Alabama championship football team and proudly wears his ring while cooking. Yet his co-owner, Emily Tuttle Shell is orange and blue all the way. And she greets us and seats us today at my favorite, corner bar table, in this house divided.
Realizing that we need some time to chat, I ask our server’s advice regarding what we could share as a starter. And she offers an off the menu suggestion of Fried Oysters. Ada Ruth exclaims that she loves oysters. And we are off to a nice start. The oysters soon arrive encased in a crisp and golden crust. A native of Bayou La Batre, Jeremy knows oysters. We dip these briny, buttery jewels in his creamy, dreamy remoulade and start to strategize. Thank you, Bistro V for graciously accommodating our request of a shared starter.
For entrees Ada Ruth orders the Crab Cakes, and I opt for the Fish of the Day, Snapper. Both of our entrees are a meeting of the farmer’s market and the Gulf Coast. Two cakes are crowned with remoulade and chock full of crabmeat. They are served on a bed of mixed greens with fresh plum corn and juicy tomatoes, plus slices of crispy, fried green tomatoes. What a dish! The fish of the day is my go-to favorite here because the cut of fish is typically snapper or grouper, and the set is a lovely mix of in season “veggies of the day,” as well. My generous piece of snapper floats atop an end of summer synthesis: acidic, vine ripe tomatoes, buttery squash, earthy peas, and dense, grassy okra, which rounds out the succulence of the snapper. Catch both if you can!
No sharing dessert here! Ada Ruth orders Emily’s Peach Pound Cake, and I would never turn down Emily’s Strawberry Shortcake. One bite of the pound cake, and Ada Ruth swoons over it saying it tastes like something her grandmother would make. Fresh peaches adorn the moist cake, enhancing its peachiness. And freshly hand whipped cream perfect it. My dessert is tried and true as ever. Macerated sweet strawberries are lavishly spooned over, inside, and around a warm cake and topped with the same freshly, hand whipped cream. And as we excitedly finish our meal, out plans for Auburn Restaurants are just beginning.
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