There I was in church, all focused on my Lord and Savior when Anonymous slipped in next to me on the pew and suggested we try Dyron’s Low Country Sunday Brunch after the service. Wouldn’t you just know it....a Southern girl depriving herself during Lent of culinary delights in pursuit of deeper spirituality gets a good offer on Sunday...and it’s a feast day! PTL! Now, I know some good people don’t adhere to that rule, but I think it’s a grand one, so off we went. I will leave it to you to decide whether Anonymous represents a sweet angel or a demon whispering in my ear.
I have to confess I was a bit confused over Low Country cuisine as compared to Cajun cooking since the Dyron’s menu offered gumbo, beignets, and other dishes I know from New Orleans. Fortunately, I was once again in the company of not only a brilliant mind, but an authentic Cajun, as Anonymous himself was born in New Orleans and even rode on a Mardi Gras float in utero before he was born. He explained that the Low Country region of coastal South Carolina and Georgia share many of the same resources of the Louisiana Gulf Coast area like shrimp, fish, oysters, rice, and tomatoes and so there should be no surprise that there are such similarities in their cooking. The most notable Euro-influences come from an English colonial perspective for Low Country and from the French and Spanish for Cajun Country. That’s why you will find creamy She-crab soup from the LC and spicy gumbo from CC on the same menu at Dyron’s. And of course both are informed by predominant influences from Africa, where the okra for gumbo came from in the first place.
After the history lesson A started with the Korbert’s Style Seafood Gumbo and I had the Tomato Soup. They were both divine. The gumbo was scrumptious and full of tomatoes, okra, garlic, shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat and Conecuh sausage (which hails right here from Alabama in Dyron’s Low-Cajun-and Plain Old Country fusion). The thick broth, or file, was loaded with savoriness, enhanced in richness by the roux which in Cajun cooking is typically made with oil (rather than butter) and flour. It had a nice kick without being too spicy. My Tomato soup was delightful! It was thick and creamy with croutons, basil and Grana Padano thinly grated on top--well I guess there are some Italians in Charleston, too. As lovely to the eyes as to the mouth.
Anonymous was ravenous when we got there after a strenuous morning working out on the soccer pitch and couldn’t decide between the pork or chicken for his main course so he got them both. I love it when that happens! I got the vegetable omelette. It would be hard to say which one we liked best. The Duroc Pork and Grits came highly recommended by our waiter Steve, and for obvious reasons...it was out of this world! Duroc is a special breed of pig favored by many for its natural juiciness and flavor. There were beautiful variations and layers of meat braised and simmering in a Bourbon Pork Jus (and, Sugar, I just love anything with Bourbon in it) which enhanced the tender inside and crispy outside meat. A said it reminded him of his favorite Chinese dish, Shanghai Pork. I went to Shanghai once in a former life but that’s a whole different story, and I never had anything this good there.
“The gumbo was scrumptious and full of tomatoes, okra, garlic, shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat and Conecuh sausage (which hails right here from Alabama in Dyron’s Low-Cajun-and Plain Old Country fusion).”
The pork was served on McEwen grits with Snow’s Bend collards that would make any proper Southerner proud. Anonymous paired it with a really smooth 2009 Argentinean Malbec, Tupun (Tu-poon). It had softer tannins but still enough acidity to penetrate the meat, dissolve the fats, and release the best blend of tastes ever from swine and wine complementing each other.
We had the fried chicken and biscuits with Sawmill gravy, Conecuh sausage and grits. Sawmill is a recipe that reputedly came from the logging camps where they mixed the sausage into the gravy to stretch it to make it more substantial for the loggers. It was rich and creamy in texture with bits of sausage topped with the homemade biscuits which married nicely like Momma’s cookin’ with the crisp fried chicken.
My vegetable omelet was loaded with spinach, tomatoes and Stone’s Hollow goat cheese (which I could eat with a spoon) with grits and a biscuit. It was cooked to perfection, soft in the middle and gently firm on the outside. I even felt like I was eating healthy, sort of.
We couldn’t stop there as it was a feast day and all, so we ordered two desserts. We had Buttermilk Pound Cake with macerated strawberries, Grand Marnier and whipped cream. The cake had a sad streak in the middle with crisp edges. Dreams are made of this.
The House-made Beignets with chocolate sauce and strawberry cream cheese were much better than anything I ever had in NOLA...sorry A, no offense to your roots. I was tempted to try the 2004 Naughty Sticky dessert wine because it sounded like fun but showed enormous restraint since the Tupun was still flowing.
All in all Dyron’s was delightful.
A warm, friendly atmosphere and delicious food suitable for a feast day, or any day for that matter. I could wander for Forty Days in this watery wilderness of Cajun and Low Country without ever feeling the slightest bit deprived.
OK so it’s not the place for fasting, but gives you plenty of culinary riches to say grace over. Happy eating!
Dyron›s Lowcountry 21 Oak Street, Mountain Brook, AL 35213 (205) 834-8257 Happy Hour 4:30-6:30 Tues Thru Fri Dinner 5:30 until close Tues Thru Sat Brunch 11:00- 2:00 on Sun www.dyronslowcountry.com/