Coastal Roots

Dyron’s Lowcountry is tried and true, yet Chef Brantley always has something new.

By Jan Walsh

Dyron’s Lowcountry has been one of my favorite restaurants since it opened in 2009 in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village. There is really nothing else like it. Here, owners, Dyron Powell and wife, Sonya, hit the spot with their niche of South Carolina and Georgia’s Lowcountry cuisine. Southern coastal estuary shrimp, fish, crab, and oysters are abundant here, as are local fruits, veggies, grits, and grains. Dyron’s is also famous for their seafood gumbo, fried chicken, fried crab claws, and “Old Mobile Style” West Indies Crab Salad, not to mention the Beignets and Buttermilk Biscuits.

Relationships made at Dyron’s last. It was here that former chef, Randall Baldwin and I became friends and where, many years later, he shared news of his upcoming restaurant in Auburn. After a momentary sigh, I mentioned that I owned the domain name, And he excitedly encouraged me to “Do it!” One good thing leads to another. Consequently, much of Dyron’s staff now follows the site and has its app on their phones… And tonight, we are greeted with a “War Eagle” from our server.

Regardless of who is wearing the executive chef’s jacket, Dyron’s is a well-oiled machine. In 2021, Chef Brantley Bush became executive chef. Chef Brantley is a Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, educated chef and Dyron’s former sous chef. Thankfully, the fare Dyron’s is famous for has not changed, as Chef Brantley has not tried to fix what was not broken. Yet he has stirred the pot, creating new and amazing creations. My first meal under his leadership was the “Vegetable Plate,” which was cooked en papillote, in paper. This marvelous menagerie of an entire Southern summer garden unfolded in parchment paper, with each veggie tender crisp and bursting with steamy summer fragrance and flavor. What a brilliant idea! Tonight, his touch can be tasted in the offering of Grilled Gulf Oysters with white soy ponzu, masu ikura roe, and fried shallots and a variety of fish courses.
We start with a bottle of Prince Alexandre Cremant De Loire and the Southern Charcuterie board. From the Loire Valley, this brut sparkler has a delicate mousse and notes of peach and pear. It tickles our noses as we pile on the scrumptious house made pimento cheese, homemade sweet pickles, and a marvelous bacon-onion jam onto slices of Benton Ham, Conecuh Sausage, and toast points. The interactive board is made for sharing not just food but also conversation. And we catch up on highlights of each other’s day as we nibble away until our board is bare.

I arrived planning to have the Captain’s Platter as my entrée because… Well, I always plan to order it, but somehow never do because it is a platter, after all. Yet with Kev’s promise of eating his share, I intend to work my plan until I see all the other options. There is the Red Snapper with crabmeat, which I typically order because you can never go wrong with Dyron’s red snapper. Plus, I find two new fish on the menu, Monkfish and Pompano. Oh, my! I just can’t commit. “Pompano” conjures memories of big catch photos our son, Jordan sent to us with him proudly holding his pompano, and more pics of him grilling it. So, Pompano it is. Kev never wavers. He came here for the New York Strip and orders it without blinking.

My pompano is presented floating on a seaweed-like bed of sweet Swiss chard, over a pool of creamy, fresh, zingy Poblano-patron crema. This lovely fish is mild and clean in taste, white in color, and firm in texture. And an earthy accompaniment of black-eyed pea hoppin’ john, boasting bites of Benton’s Ham, speaks to me with its Lowcountry drawl.

Kev’s generous cut steak arrives sizzling and is tender, juicy, and cooked to order. And its guajillo butter adds a hint of smokiness, fruitiness, and additional moisture. Dyron’s steak fries are almost as thick cut as his steak, and are irresistibly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. We would come here just for these fries! And a gorgeous harvest gratin of fall veggies rounds out the plate.

We finish the evening with another Dyron’s favorite, White Chocolate Bread Pudding. And the proof is in the first bite of this chocolaty and comforting pudding. It is topped with caramel, chocolate, and powdered sugar, and is brightened with sliced strawberries, and highly recommended.

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