Tag Archives: El Cocinero

Hawthorn: Elegant, Cultured and Welcome

Jesse Edmunds describes his new venue, The Hawthorn, as a “refined dining experience.” And so it is.

Many will know Edmunds and his team from their operation of Liberty Bar & Restaurant and El Cocinero, but The Hawthorn is a way different enterprise.

The elegant new restaurant, in the former home of Joe Mama’s and later, Tifeo, is a white tablecloth establishment, the cuisine inspired by the dishes of the American South and the south of Europe. The Hawthorn is named after Edmunds’ favorite flower, regal but grounded, like the food.

Edmunds and his team make pretty much everything from scratch — the crackers, sourdough bread, pasta, sauces. The list goes on and on. The emphasis is on well-sourced seasonal ingredients, local when possible. Expect the menu to change often.

The Hawthorn has had a soft opening since Oct. 5 but the grand opening is Nov. 10 and 11. Diners will be treated to a round of free champagne and the beer and wine service will expand to a full bar.

For Edmunds, The Hawthorn is a long time coming. He’s been working in the restaurant business since washing dishes at age 13. The ambitious chef graduated from Florida State University’s Dedman School of Hospitality, and at age 21 came up with a business plan for a “refined” restaurant.

It would be 10 years before Edmunds made his plan a reality, but The Hawthorn is very much the restaurant of his dreams.

The Setting

Edmund’s wife, Briana, designed the handsome restaurant, decorated in hues of deep navy and crisp white, with accents of grey, brick and wood. Walls are brightened by vivid abstracts and small planters. The Hawthorn can seat 54 in the main dining room, 20 in the bar area and eight on the outside patio. You might hear a Rolling Stones tune played softly in the background, but the fun soundtrack won’t interfere with your focus on food, friends and drink.

Dig In

For starters, my husband and I, dining with another couple, shared two of the intriguing small plates. The lamb crepe was superb. The dish is a play on pulled pork with cornbread and coleslaw, said Edmunds, but this version features flavorful braised lamb from Border Springs Farm in Virginia that’s shredded and tucked inside soft crepes made from cornmeal from Rich Pouncey’s Bumpy Road Farms in Tallahassee. The crepe is garnished with pickled mustard seeds and cabbage slaw. I want some more, right now.

Instead of avocado toast, Edmunds features butternut squash on a thin slice of wood-fired, fresh-baked sourdough slathered with a shmear of rich mascarpone cheese. The bread is topped with three renditions of the squash: confit, charred and puréed. It’s finished with a few butternut squash seeds, a drizzle of fig vinegar, thinly sliced radishes and radish greens. A taste of autumn.

The Hawthorn displays a chalkboard showing the source of its oysters, but we’ll have to try the mollusks on our next visit. We had to save room for large plates, including a mix of proteins and a vegetarian entree (with root vegetables, greens, potatoes au gratin and farmers cheese).

Pork tends to disappoint at most restaurants but The Hawthorn’s pork tenderloin is excellent, buttery tender and juicy. It’s set atop a creamy sauce of puréed roasted corn spiked with saffron. The house-made hominy is a nice touch, along with sweet potatoes and leeks cooked in a cast-iron pan in the wood fire. No wonder the dish is called Fall Pork.

My friend, who loves duck, ordered the duck confit, wonderfully moist and savory, tossed with plump, house-made gnocchi, crisp pancetta, roasted cipollini onions, romanesco (cousin to the cauliflower) and lots of Parmesan. If you don’t like salty food, keep in mind the dish is naturally a tad salty but certainly delicious.

The crab capellini has the simple goodness of a meal cooked in sunny Italy. Edmunds uses an arugula purée in his house-made pasta so it’s a light green, a pleasant backdrop for the real lump crab. On the side are slices of oranges in a white wine butter sauce. The surprise element is a dollop of Georgia caviar, one luxurious bite that doesn’t overpower the delicate dish. The caviar is made from Russian sturgeon raised in Georgia.

The other fish dish on our visit was a double hunk of fresh rainbow trout cooked skin-on, complimented by a fermented tomato sauce with heirloom carrots scooped into melon balls for a whimsical accent.

For dessert, we devoured the scrumptious red velvet bread pudding from pastry chef Kristen Siegel. It’s more of a deconstructed cake, with chunks of chocolate, a vanilla crème anglaise and a garnish of beet micro greens. We could have licked the plate.

For something different, try the gujar ka halwa cake. It’s like an Indian version of carrot cake with cardamon and other Indian spices. If you’re a fan of cream cheese, you’ll love the thick wedge of rich cream cheese ice cream. It’s accompanied by Seigel’s own almond brittle.

A sweet ending, indeed.

Bar

There’s a small, thoughtful wine list (by the glass and bottle). Beer choices include Proof’s La La Land and Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPAs. The full bar will feature classic cocktails like martinis and Manhattans.

Service

Servers were attentive and came around often to fill water glasses and see if we were enjoying our meal. We were.

Prices

Small plates $10 to $13, large plates $20 to $35, desserts $8 to $9.

Bottom Line

The Hawthorn is a winner. It’s only open about a month but it’s already a creative, and welcome, new dining destination for Tallahassee.

Rating: Worth the Drive

Rochelle Koff writes about food and dining at TallahasseeTable.com, and on Facebook, @TheTallahasseeTable and Twitter @tallytable. Reach her at TallahasseeTable@gmail.com.

When you go …

The Hawthorn
1307 N. Monroe St., Unit 1
850.354.8275
Open 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday to Saturday
Reservations suggested.

 

 

 

What’s cooking

Here are a few food and dining events this month in Tallahassee and nearby.

 

FLORIDA

For a list of festivals across the state, check out visitflorida.com/en-us/florida-events/calendar.html

WEEKLY EVENTS

Brains and brew:  Exercise your brain and drink locally brewed beer (responsibly, please) at  the weekly Trivia Night at Grasslands Brewing Company (call 850-765-3014 to ensure it’s going on, as planned).
When: 7  to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Where: : GrassLands Brewing Company, 603 W. Gaines Street
Webgrasslandsbrewery.com

Brickyard Farmers Market:  This new farmers market, now located inside the Urban Food Market, features homemade jams and jellies, baked goods, produce, plants  and other items. 
When: 
8 a.m.  to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Where: 
Urban Food Market, Tallahassee Centre, 2415 N Monroe Street
Web:
 centreoftallahassee.com

Craft beer tastings:  Lake Tribe Brewing Company offers weekly tastings and tours. The $10 fee includes a souvenir glass, six tasting tickets and a behind-the-scenes look at the brewery.
When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays
Where: Lake Tribe Brewing Company, 3357 Garber Drive
Web: laketribebrewing.com

Craft beer Tuesday: Get discounts on a variety of brews at 319 Wine and Cheese.
When: 5 p.m.  Tuesdays
Where: 319 Wine & Cheese Shoppe, 6265 Old Water Oak Road
Web319wineandcheese.com

Wine down Wednesdays: Order wine for $5 a glass during the weekly event.
When: 5 p.m.  Wednesdays.
Where: 319 Wine & Cheese Shoppe, 6265 Old Water Oak Road
Web: 319wineandcheese.com

Downtown Marketplace:  Check out fresh produce and food items, art and crafts by regional participants, live music and other attractions at this weekly event.
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays March through December.
Where: Ponce de Leon Park, Park Avenue and Monroe Street
Webdowntownmarket.com

Eastside Farmer’s Market:  Local producers bring fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, herbal teas, gifts, handmade soaps and more.
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Where: Luke’s Anglican Church, 3725 Apalachee Parkway
Web: facebook.com/eastsidefarmersmarkettallahassee

Food Truck Thursday:  No need to wait for the weekend to have some fun.  Stop by Food Truck Thursdays, with live music behind the Cottages at Lake Ella. Bring your lawn chairs, coolers, blankets and the whole family (dogs ok on a leash). Participating trucks subject to change.  Participating trucks may vary. Sponsored by the Tallahassee Food Truck Association and Lake Ella Merchants Association.
When: 6 to 9 p.m.  every Thursday. (Closed Aug. 3).
Where: behind the Cottages at Lake Ella, 1639 N. Monroe St.
WebTallahassee Food Truck Association

Frenchtown Farmers Market:  The weekly event features vendors selling handmade and locally grown products and produce plus eggs, honey, preserves and baked goods.
When: 9 .m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays
Where: 524 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Webfrenchtownheritage.org

Growers Market at Lake Ella:  Find fresh produce and other vendors at this weekly event.
When: 
Noon to 6 p.m. each Wednesday.
Where: 
The Growers’ Market, 229 Lake Ella Drive
Web: 
facebook.com/LakeEllaGrowersMarket

Lake Ella Sunday brunch:  Join the laid-back group enjoying the food trucks, live music and tranquil view of Lake Ella on Sunday mornings.
When: 11 a.m to 2 p.m. every Sunday.
Where:  The Shops at Lake Ella, 1641 N. Monroe St.
WebTallahassee Food Truck Association

Martini Mondays:  All martinis are $5 each at Brass Tap Midtown. There are eight martini choices, including the Chocoberry, Blackberry Lemon Drop and Passionfruit Martin.
When:  4 to midnight Mondays
Where: Brass Taps Midtown,  1321 Thomasville Road
Web: brasstapbeerbar.com

Tallahassee’s Farmers Market:  The longtime farmers market focuses on produce, offering “conventional, Certified Organic, Certified Naturally Grown, non-chemical, natural practices, hydroponics, growers and resellers.” Other items include  plants, flowers, honey, grass-fed beef and pork and cheese.
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays
Where: 1415 Timberlane Road at Market Square
Web: localharvest.org/tallahassee-farmers-market

Wednesday Roundup:  Get out of the office or the classroom and head to the Downtown Food Truck Court for a weekly lunch gathering.
When:  11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  every Wednesday.
Where: just off Gaines Street at 725 S Bronough St.
Web facebook.com/TallyFTA

Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic farm stand:  Harry Kimble of K & K Farms out of Quitman, Ga. sells produce, nuts and figs outside the clinic on Wednesdays and he also sells his goods at the Farmers’ Market  at Market Square on Saturday mornings. Kimble specializes in peaches, plums, nectarines and pecans. (The corn pictured comes from Kimble’s stand).
When: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays 
Where:
Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic, 3334 Capital Medical Blvd.

You Make It, You Grow It: Local artisans, growers and producers and other items for sale at this bimonthly farmers market.
When: 11 a.m to 2 p.m. the second and fourth Saturday of the month
Where: Railroad Square Art Park, 602 McDonnell Drive
Web: facebook.com/youmakeit

Have a food/dining event you want to share? Send the info to TallahasseeTable@gmail.com at least two weeks in advance and we’ll try to get it posted here.