Food for Thought

Dyron’s executive chef, Chris Melville weeds out all seed oils.

By Jan Walsh

Since 2009 Dyron’s Lowcountry Restaurant has shared restaurateurs Dyron and Sonya Powell’s love of Lowcountry cuisine. Their focus has always been on fresh, local and regional food made with whole ingredients. And Executive Chef, Chris Melville just stirred and sweetened the pot.

Locally owned and/or chef driven restaurants often name a local farm or Gulf seafood source on their menus. But what was that organic potato or Gulf oyster will be fried in? I always ask… After two hospitalizations from foods cooked in seed oils, much research and testing by my allergist afterwards, both my doctor and I began to question the refining processes and health risks of some seed oils. And I have personally been “preaching” about seed oils for the decade that has followed.

“I aspire to be ingredient-driven, as opposed to ego-driven. And I consider myself as a servant to the community and my fellows,” Chef Chris describes. “It's a moral imperative for me to eliminate seed oils and every other toxin related to oxidative stress and metabolic dysfunction.” Most seed oils are not balanced with enough omega-3 and thus may cause inflammation. Whereas tallow is high in the essential fatty acid omega-3, providing anti-inflammatory benefits from brain to toe. Dyron’s kitchen now uses Snake River Farms Wagyu Tallow for pan seared meats and deep frying and uses clarified butter for seafood. “I have also roasted local turnips and cherry tomatoes with tallow. And I swapped Crisco in our biscuits for rendered pork fat from Smoking Goose Provisions from Wisconsin. Cold-pressed avocado oil is used in cold applications, and we are sourcing organic flour to avoid glyphosate (gluten intolerance). And the results are incredible!”

Tonight, we are seated by General Manager, Charlie Hayes and welcomed by familiar faces, as many of the staff at Dyron’s have been here for years. They know you and call you by name. “The single, greatest asset for a restaurant is the vibe of the staff,” Chef describes. We start with a fruity yet rich French sparkler Lucien Albreche Cremant Rosé NV, from Alsace.

As we slather butter on crumbly cornbread sticks and the pillowy biscuits, we select from the top half of the menu: Original West Indies Salad and Duck Confit. The crab salad is dubbed, “Old Mobile Style” because Mobile restaurateur Bill Bayley originated the recipe along with the idea of frying crab claws. Hero! Dyron’s salad has a new presentation that keeps the Gulf blue crab icy cold. We fish for lumps marinated with Vidalia onions in cider vinegar and lay our catches across crisp crackers. Each fresh, tangy bite of this classic, Old Mobile salad never gets old. The Duck Confit is generous in portion, could easily be an entrée. Presented in a muscadine-veal glacé atop fingerling potato, and crowned with arugula and crispy spring onion, the savory duck melts in the mouth. It boasts a crisp skin outside, and moist, fatty sweetness with subtle hints of spice inside. One of the very best duck confits anywhere, ever!

Given we are focusing on the tallow tonight, Joyce Farms’ Fried Chicken is a must. Although we have had it many times through the years here, tonight the chicken is an all-new experience. Served in three pieces, both light and dark meat. The humble hen is enhanced by a glitzy Kampot peppercorn gravy. The king of peppers, kampot grown in Cambodia’s Kampot and Kep provinces without chemical fertilizers. For black peppercorns, the unripe pepper fruit is harvested only by hand in springtime, sorted and dried, dehydrated and blackened naturally in the sun. The silky, aromatic gravy is dark in color, with deep layers of flavor. The chicken’s crust’s deep golden texture is crisp and dry, not greasy, nor oily. And inside the bird is finger licking moist. Highly recommended… Come taste the difference frying in tallow makes. Accompanying the chicken is a marvelous, creamy macaroni and cheese and beautifully braised collard greens, better than my grandmother’s.

We also catch the Diver Sea Scallops with Gulf Pompano entrée. Floating atop a velvety velouté sauce dotted with mixed veggies, the pompano is firm and finely textured. It is fresh and pristine departing a mild sweetness. And this prized fish is towered with two delicate, succulent scallops. Kev’s favorite clams, along with pancetta and spinach round out the bowl with additional texture and color. Catch it if you can!

For dessert we share tonight’s special, Arkansas Black Apple Galette with Miso Butterscotch and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and pair with Savannah Maderia by The Rare Wine Company. Each wine in the series is named for a U.S. city: Charleston, Savannah, Boston, and New York where Madeira was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Savannah Verdelho is a nod to the South’s love of drier Madeiras. The Savannah Verdelho is the newest wine in the series, produced from a blend of 10-year-old Verdelho mixed with small quantities of 40 to 60-year-old Tinta Negra Mole. It is complex with notes of candied citrus, chocolate, and nuts. The wine is slightly sweet with a zippy acidity. Oh, my! Arkansas Black Apples are named for their dark red to black skins. This divine savory dessert also delights with sweet complexity. The topping of butterscotch, verses plain vanilla, ice cream brings unexpected buttery, brown sugar notes. As I child I would eat brown sugar from the box when my grandmother was not looking! And its miso adds additional depth and dimension with its umami. The ice cream melts into the work of apple art below melding to the lovely crust and plump, yellow fleshy, sweet tart apples inside, with notes of cherry. We should not have shared! From start to finish dinner at Dyron’s is a wholesome, nourishing, and deliciously fulfilling experience.


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