Tag Archives: Hawthorn

Romance on the Menu

With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, the search is on for that perfect, romantic dining destination. No pressure, right?

But what makes a restaurant romantic? For some couples, it’s just the site where you had that first date or a memorable night. With the right recipe for romance, sharing a big juicy burger can be as magical as diving into beef bourguignon.

Still, there are some places that help set the mood. Maybe it’s the candlelight, the pampering service or the delicious meal — or likely a combination of all three.

To help your search, here are 14 places we (with help from Tallahassee Table readers) think have that special something. Make reservations as soon as possible, and let love do the rest.

+39
The white tablecloth restaurant is named for the country code of Italy. Chef Alessandro Di Maggio, who graduated from culinary school in Tuscany, presents creative fare at the handsome Italian restaurant, ensconced inside the Urban Food Market. +39 will be serving Valentine’s Day specials including roast duck, scallops in a cream sauce and a rib-eye with pine nut truffle butter. The Centre of Tallahassee, 2415 N Monroe St.; 850-536-6843.

319 Wine & Cheese Shoppe
The charming  cafe, owned by Lynne and Bill Edwards, is offering a three-course Valentine’s Day menu with a complimentary glass of champagne for $80. The evening will feature live music by acoustic singer Kevin Wahoo. You can also order a wine and cheese dinner to go if you prefer to spend the holiday at home (order in advance, $50). 6265 Old Water Oak Rd.; 850-765-7053.

– Joe Rondone, Tallahassee Democrat

A la Provence
This classic dining destination presents French-Mediterranean cuisine, with items like foie gras, pot au feu and a charcuterie. Expect the regular menu plus Valentine’s Day specials like chateaubriand and lobster in a romantic setting. 1415 Timberlane Rd.; 850-329-6870.

Blu Halo
The swanky space, owned by Keith Paniucki, offers an elegant menu featuring huge steaks, an array of seafood and a decadent selection of desserts you can pair with after-dinner drinks. A special Valentine’s Day menu will be available Feb. 13 through 17. Bannerman Crossings, 3431 Bannerman Rd.; 850-999-1696.

– Joe Rondone, Tallahassee Democrat

Clusters & Hops
Wander to the back of this gourmet wine and cheese shop and you’ll find an intimate, 45-seat cafe featuring adventurous cuisine like reindeer sliders, elk carpaccio and rack of lamb from chef/owner Kent Steels. The cozy spot offers a wine list with more than 2,500 choices. Here’s a bonus: You can pick a wine off the shelf and pay the retail price with an $8.50 corkage fee. 707 N. Monroe St., 850-222-2669.

– Joe Rondone, Tallahassee Democrat

Cypress Restaurant
Known as a special occasion destination, owned by chef David Gwynn and his wife, Elizabeth, the up-market venue offers elegant versions of Southern-inspired regional cuisine in a sophisticated setting, 320 East Tennessee St.; 850-513-1100.

– Hali Tauxe

Food Glorious Food
The contemporary restaurant, open for more than 30 years, serves a global menu in an intimate space decorated with vibrant art work. Sinfully good desserts made in-house. 1950 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-7279.

Georgio’s Fine Food & Spirits
Owner Georgio Koikos has been at the helm of the Greek-Mediterranean venue for more than 50 years, and still makes an appearance daily. The commendable service, attention to detail and extensive menu help make Georgio’s a Tallahassee staple. The Valentine’s Day menu will feature specialty dinners, cocktails and desserts. 2971 Apalachee Pkwy., Tallahassee; 850-877-3211

The Hawthorn
The upscale restaurant is the third dining destination from chef Jesse Edmunds (Liberty Bar & Restaurant, El Cocinero), who creates a sophisticated, white-tablecloth dining experience at The Hawthorn. Edmunds features cuisine inspired by the dishes of the American South and the south of Europe with special embellishments for Valentine’s Day. 1307 N Monroe, Unit #1, 850-354-8275

Little Italy
The classic Italian restaurant, owned by Enver Sulollari and his wife Vjollca since 1987, offers traditional red-sauced fare in a homey, welcoming space. On Valentine’s Day, Little Italy will offer its regular menu and a special holiday menu with a bottle of wine for $65 per couple (available all day if you prefer a Valentine’s Day lunch). 111 S Magnolia Dr.; 850-878-7781.

Melting Pot
Diners like Tallahasee Table reader Eric-Kim Justice consider the Melting Pot a Valentine’s Day staple because “it’s more than a meal. It’s an experience.” Justice said the fondue dinners “take two hands and focus. No time for phones.” The Valentine’s Day menu is available now, through Feb. 18. The prix fixe menu will be offered exclusively on Valentine’s Day. 2727 N. Monroe St.; 850-386-7440.

 

Nefetari’s Fine Cuisine & Spirits
The lavish destination, decorated with Egyptian and African art, features a special Valentine’s Day menu showcasing its international menu, plus there’s live entertainment by The Few G’s, a jazz, neo-soul ensemble. Owners Sharon and Dana Dennard tout a “royal experience” (there’s even a queen’s table) in this unique space. 812 S. Macomb St.; 850-210-0548.

Sage
Chef/owner Terry White is known for his from-scratch gourmet cuisine, particularly his array of seafood (he was named “King of American Seafood” at 2014’s Great American Seafood Cook-Off). Dine in a cozy space surrounded by local art or the landscaped patio. 3534 Maclay Blvd. South; 850-270-9396.

– Shula’s 347 Grill

Shula’s 347 Grill
Tallahassee Table reader Alix Kalfin touts Shula’s as a favorite for Valentine’s Day “because it’s a quiet, intimate atmosphere with excellent service.” The quintessential steakhouse, inside the Hotel Duval, will extend its dining room on Valentine’s Day to include its LeRoc Lounge. Customers seated in the lounge can listen to classical guitarist Morgan Stuart from 6 to 9 p.m. Diners will have the option of the regular menu or a five-course Valentine’s Day special. Top off the night at the hotel’s Level 8 rooftop lounge, for a cocktail and view of downtown Tallahassee under the stars. 415 N. Monroe St.; 850-224-6005.

Z.Bardhi’s Italian Cuisine
A longtime favorite in Tallahassee, Z.Bardhi’s has served fine Italian fare for more than two decades. Dine in the cozy dining room or the lovely patio, with white tablecloths, candlelight and a romantic atmosphere. 3596 Kinhega Dr.; 850-894-9919.

Rochelle Koff writes about food and dining at TallahasseeTable.com. Reach her at TallahasseeTable@gmail.com

 

New Tallahassee Tastes

The culinary scene in Tallahassee was bittersweet in 2017. We welcomed a host of new restaurants, including our first cat adoption cafe, but we also said goodbye to a few faves.

On the plus side, we savored new flavors, but also discovered we still love comfort food (and tacos).

Here are some of the noteworthy ups and downs in our restaurant world this year — with a look at what’s coming up. We realize there are a lot more newcomers, so please send along your recommendations to TallahaseeTable@gmail.com.

A treat for cat lovers: Customers can order a cup of coffee and pastry, then pay $7 an hour to enter a playroom and cuddle cats that need a home. The goal of The Fat Cat Cafe, and other similar venues opening around the world, is to spur adoptions — 35 cats have been adopted at the Tallahassee cafe since the place opened Aug. 11. There are also special events geared to kiddies and kitties. Fat Cat Cafe, 2901 East Park Avenue, Suite 2600; 850-402-9850. Another feline venue, The Tally Cat Cafe, is planning to open in 2018.

Ethnic cuisine: From Afghan kebabs to Vietnamese-style beef stew, several ethnic restaurants debuted in 2017.

  • Arepana Latin Grill: Viet and Nam Vu (Taco Republik, MoBi food truck) have opened two tasty additions to Tallahassee’s dining scene — Arepana and Izzy Pub & Sushi. Nam opened Arepana in April, featuring inexpensive dishes influenced by Colombian, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan fare. Find arepas (corn cakes with a protein or vegetable filling), rice bowls with roast pork, carne asada (steak), chicken or vegetables, salads and sides like yucca fries and plantains. 1176 Capital Circle SE; 850- 597-9931.

    Joe Rondone/Democrat
  • Izzy Pub & Sushi: Viet Vu joined forces with chef Xinzheng “Alex” Fang to create the chill, Japanese-style gastro pub. Diners can devour an array of sushi, sashimi and small plates plus a choice of sake, including the first kegged sake in Tallahassee. Open since February, the pub is also bringing in harder-to-find fish from Japanese markets. 1123 Thomasville Rd.; 850-222-5000.
  • Chuan Cafe: The restaurant’s slogan is “Never Spicy Enough” but there are lots of milder choices at this urban College Town space. Just indicate your spice choices when you order. Dishes include hot and sour soup, dim sum, Kung Pao chicken and vegetarian choices. Bento combos are available until 5 p.m. 619 Woodward Ave. (across from Centrale); 850-727-0228.
  • Da Khyber Grill: The restaurant is an exotic addition to Tallahasee. The place touts a fusion of Pakistan-Indian and Persian flavors with a few items influenced by Afghanistan cuisine, including a kebab with rice. An inexpensive buffet is available at lunch daily and during dinner Friday and Saturday. Order off the dinner menu on other evenings. Open since September, Da Khyber Grill touts a menu that’s 100 percent Halal (foods permissible under Muslim law). 2819 Mahan Dr.; 850-320-6450.
  • Dao: Open since April, Dao is an upscale version of Azu, offering a large, pan-Asian selection in Bannerman Crossings. Owners are Masa Nagashima, who was the general manager of Lucy Ho’s restaurants for nearly 40 years, and Azu’s Kenny Fan, the nephew of Ho’s late husband. 3425 Bannerman Rd.; 850-999-1482.
  • Lemongrass: Savor Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisine as well as sushi and sake at the serene restaurant, open since June in the Centre of Tallahassee. Specialties include Vietnamese beef stew, bánh mì sandwich (at lunch), curries and rolls. From the owners of the former Far East Cuisine. 2415 N Monroe St.; 850-765-0672
  • Tour of Italy:  You’ll find housemade pasta, pizza, calzones, favorites like chicken parmigiana and shrimp fra diavolo plus “mama kababs” at this homey eatery, which launched  Nov. 6. Indoor and outdoor dining.  3805 N. Monroe St.; 850-629-8203.

An eclectic bunch: These intriguing newcomers are offering a change from tacos, pizza and burgers.

  • The Bark: The restaurant has moved to a new, larger venue (formerly Perry’s Lounge) and it’s now a full bar and music venue as well as a cafe. Open since Sepember, The Bark serves fresh bread and a vegan/vegetarian menu, with Saturday and Sunday brunch. 507 All Saints St.; 850-900-5936.
  • Cafe Taverna: This is a new venture from the team behind Lucy Ho restaurants, touted as “Southern American cuisine with a Latin twist.” Dinners include small and large plates, with fried eggplant, rib-eye, pork tenderloin, charcuterie and a vegetable plate. Brunch choices feature breakfast fajitas, crab-filled crepes eggs Benedict and fried chicken and biscuits. 1019 Monroe St.; 850-999-8203.
  • Hawthorn: The elegant new restaurant is a white tablecloth establishment from Jesse Edmunds and the team behind Liberty Bar & Restaurant and El Cocinero. The menu, offering small and large plates, is inspired by the dishes of the American South and the south of Europe in an atmosphere Edmunds calls “refined dining.” 1307 N. Monroe St.; 850-354-8275.
  • Lucilla: The restaurant, in the former home of Sahara, has been serving breakfast and lunch, and just started offering dinner on Jan. 2. The fun menu, from owners Joe Richardson (the chef) and Lara Hooper, focuses on American comfort food with Creole and Southern accents. Dishes include pimento cheese fritters with a smidgen of bourbon peach glaze, fried oysters, root vegetable pot pie and bread pudding with white chocolate and pumpkin (scrumptious). 1241 E. Lafayette St.; 850-900-5117.

Sweet stuff: New bakeries and pastry shops are popping up (with more to come).

  • Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery is moving to the second floor of Midtown Reader, at 1123 Thomasville Rd. (the pink house is where the shop’s story began) in late January.
  • Au Peche Mignon, at 1415 Timberlane Rd., has opened a second location at 220 N. Duval St.

Newcomers:

– SoDough
  • SoDough opened in Midtown in September, baking doughnuts, kolaches, cookies and brioche bread. 1306 Thomasville Rd.; 850-765-8991.
  • The Goodberry, which opened in June, specializes in açaí bowls with a choice of other toppings and avocado toast. 1325 Thomasville Rd.; 850-778-5167.
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes, which also opened this summer, revives a nostalgic treat with these rich cakes, drizzled with a cream cheese-based icing. 346 S. Magnolia Dr.; 850-765-5188.
  • Southern Velvet Cafe, featuring coffee, tea and pastries, will be opening in 2018 in Frenchtown.

Taco madness continue

  • Locos Tacos & Bar: This  locally owned, mom-and-pop taco spot has been a star with foodies on the local Twitterverse since it opened in April.  With good reason. Go for tacos, burritos, quesadillas and much more. 1525 W. Tharpe St; 850-597-7741.
  • Tin Lizzy’s Cantina:  The  chain, part of a College Town mini restaurant boom,  was founded by FSU students Chris Hadermann, John Piemonte and Mike Evertsen. Open since August, the Tallahassee branch features a “FlexMex” style, with items like low country boil or Korean barbecue tacos and skillets including the Cowboy with fried chicken, bacon and baked beans. 619 S. Woodward Ave.; 850-558-5592.

Final course: We said goodbye to some standbys in 2017, including Old Town Cafe, Red Elephant Pizza and Grill (Midtown location) and Kitcho and Sidebar Gastrobar along with newbie Tequila Tribe. Yostie’s Chili Parlor was a casualty of the upcoming mixed-use housing development called Freight Yard. Owner Gary Yost served his last hearty dogs on the site on Dec. 29, but he’s looking for another site.

What’s next:

We expect Tallahassee’s dining scene to keep evolving in 2018. Here’s an idea, so far, of what to expect.

  • Debuting downtown: In a much anticipated opening, Sage business partners — chef Terry White and sommelier Craig Richardson — will open a high-end, Italian steakhouse on the ground floor of the six-story building owned by Brian Ballard, CEO of Ballard Partners. The building, under construction at Park Avenue and South Monroe Street, is expected to open late summer or early fall 2018.
  • The Hideaway Cafe: Coffee master Jason Card (Journeyman coffee) will be partnering with Midtown’s Waterworks to create Hideaway in the former Spaceport Lounge (the back part of the bar). “Coffee, food and interesting people” coming our way this month, Card said. 1133 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-1887.
  • Grove Market Cafe: David and Elizabeth Gwynn, owners of Cypress, will be opening a breakfast and lunch restaurant in the former home of the northeast location of the burger joint, Vertigo, which closed just before Christmas. The flagship Vertigo on Lafayette will remain open. The new cafe, expected to open in early February, will incorporate produce from local farms and “concentrate on comfort foods,” said David Gwynn. The cafe will have sit-down service and a “grab-and-go” section. The menu will offer gluten-free and dairy-free choices. 1440 Market St.
  • McAlister’s Deli: The chain, known for its fat sandwiches and sweet tea, is expected to open a branch near Trader Joe’s in January. 3425 Thomasville Rd.
  • 3 Natives Tallahassee: Founded three years ago in Tequesta, this 3 Natives is expected to open Jan. 6, serving açaí bowls, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, wraps, salads and bagels. This branch will be the chain’s eighth location; the Tallahassee operation is owned by Kerry Nohle (owner of Which Wich and Smashburger franchises in Tallahassee and Destin). Walker Plaza, 3020 W. Pensacola St.

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

 

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.