When you think of Southern food, what do you think of? Grits and fried chicken and pimento cheese? Hatchet Hall offers a far more nuanced take on the cuisine. People say of chef and Georgia native Brian Dunsmoor that he’s now bringing a Southern Californian sensibility to his Southern style, and in terms of produce that’s somewhat true. But what people outside of the South rarely understand is that the best Southern cooking these days is thoroughly modern and ingredient-driven, and Dunsmoor does a fine job of translating that aesthetic here. Sometimes that will be recognizable to all, as with a plate of sliced fresh tomatoes served with pigeon peas, aged cheddar and fresh herbs, or a skillet-fried quail served with peaches, honey, black pepper and bursts of fresh basil. Other dishes are slightly more subtle in their Southern-ness: Hunks of yellowtail are sandwiched with thin-sliced habanero and juicy peach, all wrapped up in a sliver of translucent fat shaved from a Johnson Mangalitsa country ham. It’s true that this food is more wide-ranging than what you might expect, but it’s no less Southern in spirit.
Credit: Anne Fishbein