Today’s lunch at Acre was spurred by Southern Living’s “best restaurants in the South list” from 2014 (of which I keep a copy on my phone – who doesn’t) and a desire to get out of town for the day. Looking at options, I realized we could be in Auburn in less than 90 minutes from the house and this place took reservations. Road trip booked. We rolled down I-85 and pulled onto the one acre lot (see what they did, there?) and parked.
They are definitely making the most of this acre. With three gardens, they are growing what they can and buying everything else locally. Our server, Rudy, told us, “if we can’t get it locally, it’s not on the menu.” My beloved was shocked, I believe, at how nice the restaurant was – usually my road trips end up in front of a cinder block building with a parking lot full of trucks. We arrived for lunch / brunch service and were seated in a booth, with my side facing the kitchen.
We perused the menu, considered a couple of suggestions (thought about the fried green tomatoes), and began with two starters:
Chicken fried bacon with sawmill gravy, maple syrup and bourboned pecans. The pimento cheese was of a perfect consistency – not too thick and a little runny, making it perfect for spreading or dipping. And the taste was spot on. The bacon, on the other hand, wasn’t cooked to “crisp” and, as a result, would pull outside of the breading, in a way similar to that you find with many onion rings. I love bacon, most any way, and battering and frying it and serving it with white gravy and maple syrup certainly didn’t make it any worse.
My companion chose the Missippi catfish tacos, drawn in by the combination of red pepper carrot slaw, chipotle aoli, avocado and cilantro.
She was not disappointed. I was drawn to the Garden-n-Gun grilled cheese, that I had seen in the magazine, and which the waiter said was the best grilled cheese that I’d ever have in my life. That’s a high bar, so that’s what I ordered.
When we walked in the door, I remembered that this sandwich had been featured in the Garden-N-Gun southern food issue that was focused on tomatoes. The recipe was on the wall, as we walked in.
This was a gooey mess of a sandwich, with one of the first ripe tomatoes that I’ve had this year and a beer and bacon marmalade (recipe here) that includes, among other things, coffee, sherry vinegar, honey and beer.
It was, to me, like a very corn-ish, sweet cornbread and the ice cream was so buttery that it was creepy.
Did I mention that chef David Bancroft had been nominated for a James Beard award earlier this year? There was a reason he was. This was definitely fine dining and worth the 100 mile drive, at least once. And I might do it again, the dinner menu looked really tasty…