Palate November/December 2021

EAT – The Brunch House of Augusta

By Griffin Nelson  |  Photography by John Antaki

When I first heard the name — The Brunch House of Augusta — I was instantly intrigued. Everyone loves brunch. It’s half breakfast and half lunch which means there’s something for everyone and no one has to get up early. It allows for a versatile menu and a focus on community and spending time together over good food. It allows for good food and a good time where no one is rushed and everything from the dishes to the moments can be savored.

“Families Feeding Families” is the motto at the Brunch House and speaks directly to their values and the concepts behind brunch as a whole. Whether that family is genetic or not, when you walk through the door with your daughter or your neighbor or your best friend or even alone, you immediately feel like part of the Brunch House family as you’re treated with a hearty welcome! Owned and operated by Kim and Leroy Brown and their son, Daniel, The Brunch House is a family affair with a staff comprising everyone from cousins to friends and a friendly demeanor being a requirement.

Let’s not forget the food, though. Their claim to serve good food, not fast food, rings true. The menu ranges from Shimp and Grits to Chicken and Waffles to Salmon Croquettes to the best burger in town. Each one is a classic Southern brunch staple that’s been elevated beyond what you will find anywhere else. Don’t let the disposable silverware fool you (they have had to stick with to-go plating since opening during the pandemic), the spices are on point, the bacon has been candied with black pepper and brown sugar, and the fried chicken is simultaneously juicy and crispy. Most of the sauces and syrups are made in-house. “Best part of brunch is we can get real creative with what we do,” says Daniel who handles most of the day-to-day operations.

The diner-style vibe of the inside lends cozy nostalgia vibes to the atmosphere of the unassuming exterior located at 573 Greene Street downtown. The fabulous concept for The Brunch House was created start to finish by the Brown family who saw a need for a locally owned brunch spot that wasn’t a chain. Wednesday through Friday you’ll find them open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. — perfect for grabbing food if you work downtown or sitting and staying a while with good company. If you aren’t able to eat there you can always order your food to-go either over the phone for pickup or for delivery through apps like Waitr and GrubHub. It may not be fast food but it will certainly be good food, made with love by a family serving families!


 

SIP – Emerald oX Coffee

Photo by John Antaki

There’s nothing like coffee to bring people together. In the United States it’s a normal and accepted part of our culture to drink a cup in the morning whether it’s in your kitchen or on the way to work. But in many other cultures it’s just as much a part of their midday break as it is a morning ritual and, as a result, it’s often a more communal (than singular) experience. This is the case in many cultures but particularly throughout Africa where, though it may be referred to as “teatime”, the drinking of coffee is an excuse to take a break and spend time with others. Observing and participating in this daily practice really impressed Jami Craft over the course of many trips to countries throughout Africa like Zimbabwe and Kenya. It wasn’t just the coffee but the community that surrounded it that she loved.

Craft went out of her way to find a job in the coffee industry and found herself assisting with the opening of Three Trees Coffee Roasters in Statesboro. By starting out as a barista, working her way up to a management position and eventually working as part of the team that helped cater coffee for weddings, she not only learned all the ins and outs of the coffee world but also found her calling as well. After planning her own wedding she found this combination of coffee and weddings to be as life-giving as a cup of joe.

Emerald oX was started just two years ago when she moved to Augusta and offers wedding planning services in addition to serving up coffee at catered and pop-up events like the Saturday market downtown. Even the name — Emerald oX — is a reflection of the core values of the company. The concept of the “Emerald” comes from Craft’s family. She wears her Great Grandmother’s stunning emerald ring — a reminder of the strong bond her great grandparents had and that she desires for all of her wedding planning clients. The “ox” is based on Matthew 11:28-30 and the concept of a yoke being easier when the burden is carried by more than one being. Especially after the last year this concept of people needing each other, building strong bonds, and trying to find a way to create community despite isolation has further emphasized the importance of coffee for Jami Craft. The team she’s built consists of herself, Jessie Spates, Sara Spates, and Mallory McArthur — a collection of immediate family, extended family and wonderful friends. It is a business built on this concept of community.

Emerald oX of course puts just as much emphasis on their coffee as they do relationships. The types of coffee available may vary based on growing seasons but they stock coffees from all over the world, including countries like Ethiopia, Columbia, Honduras and Guatemala. All of their coffee is certified Fair Trade and Organic with a special emphasis on making sure that each bean is roasted to retain its own specific flavor profile. Beans are available for purchase through their website with local delivery, and even growlers of cold brew and seasonal flavors of house-made syrups for lattes are available. Coffee and weddings, caffeine and community, lattes and love — Emerald oX is ready to plan your big day or to make sure that each day starts off with a great cup.

Find them on Instagram at @emeraldoxco or their website www.emeraldox.co.

 


 

 

ARTISAN – Will’s Dills

You either love pickles or you hate pickles. If you’re in the latter camp, you might as well stop reading right now, but if you’re in the former camp, I’ve got good news for you:  Will’s Dill’s is taking Augusta by storm and you will never need to buy another brand of pickles after giving these a try. Will McCranie became a master pickle maker on accident, but he stands by his recipe and the speed at which he sells out each time he makes a batch supports that confidence level.

Will’s Dills came to life in an apartment in New York City, where McCranie lived for about eight years. Born out of a need for the perfect pickle for a Bloody Mary Party, Will made two different versions: a regular and a super spicy version. Through a bit of luck he got it right on his first try with fresh pickled cucumbers that had just the right amount of crunch, just the right balance of spices and a little something for everyone with the range of heat levels.

Not a lot has changed since that first batch recipe other than adding bread and butter pickles to the list and dialing back the original spicy version just a smidge. McCranie didn’t even intend to start a pickle business at first but was challenged by his friends at Boondock Farms in Jackson, South Carolina to make a batch during the summer of 2020 to see how well they sold during an open-air market. When he made the biggest batch he’d ever made – 36 jars — and sold out in 3 hours, he knew he was onto something.

Will’s Dills has continued to grow over the last year and the team now consists of Will McCranie, his wife Lindsay McCranie, and two of his best friends Josh Mason and Alex Zwanzinger. Each member of the team contributes their personal skills. While Will heads up the lot as lead pickler, Lindsay creates all of the amazing graphics like the Wills Dills logo, Josh is the “Mandolin Whisperer” (as he’s managed to be the only one in the group to slice pickles without loosing part of a finger) and Alex rounds out the lot as the “Best Boy” who’s always willing to lend a hand.

The varieties of pickles offered at the moment consist of Devil Dills, PG-13, and Backwoods B&B. Devil Dills are essentially the same original concoction nailed down by McCranie back in Queens, N.Y. in 2012, and with habanero and garlic they are perfect for a very spicy Bloody Mary. The Backwoods B&B pickles were born out of his desire to create a bread and butter pickle that wasn’t too sweet. With just the right amount of sugar, lots of mustard and turmeric and just a little bite of red pepper on the back end, they’re perfect for snacking. Last but certainly not least, Will’s PG-13 pickles have loads of punch-y garlic but aren’t as spicy as the Devil Dills, making them ideal for a turkey sandwich.

Whatever your pickle preference, Will’s Dills has got you covered and can be found at places like Southern Salad, Roots Market in Evans, Savannah River Brewing Company and the occasional pop-up event. SRBC has even created a Witbier and Pineapple Ink Tavern carries a Bloody Mary featuring our favorite local pickles. Grab some Will’s Dills but keep in mind that these are fresh-pickled cucumbers that are best kept in the fridge for up to 90 days … that is if you don’t eat them all in one sitting.

Lagniappe

Will’s Ultimate Turkey Sandwich

Captain John Derst Good Old Fashioned Bread

Mayo (the real thing)

Boar’s Head Cracked Pepper Turkey

Will’s Dills PG-13 Pickles

Will’s directions:  Assemble sandwich. Add a little extra cracked pepper if you’re feeling spicy. Best eaten slightly chilled.

For more info follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @ilovewillsdills or checkout their website www.ilovewillsdills.com.

Appears in the November/December 2021 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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