Brunch is my favorite meal on the planet, and the recipe I’m sharing today is hands-down everything I need brunch to be. My Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits with Country Ham and Local Honey are soft, buttery, cheesy and warm. The salty country ham is sliced thin and crisped up in my cast iron skillet. I drizzle sweet honey over the top, and everything is right with the world.
Angel Oak Restaurant
John’s Island, S.C.
I love discovering quaint, off-the-beaten-path delights. That’s what I would call Angel Oak Restaurant, a small, family owned spot on John’s Island. Located right off of Savannah Highway, about 10 miles from downtown Charleston, Chef Jay Kees is serving up some of the most flavorful Southern fare in the city, combining a balance of down home dishes with those that compete with the forward thinking, highfalutin’ standards of Charleston dining. That’s one reason it isn’t hard to believe Angel Oak Restaurant holds the title for longest running business in this location. Going on more than three years in service (they opened in summer 2012), the eclectic space was once a general store, a Mexican restaurant and an ice cream shop.
The one room eatery holds 15 tables with bench style seating and an assortment of wooden chairs. Guests may also choose to sit outside, where bulb lighting and table lanterns create a soft ambiance. At the entrance, a large hostess station filled with paper menus and reams of craft paper greet guests. Staff members dressed neatly in blue jeans and plaid button down shirts work the dining room.
Filled with intentional and meaningful details, the setting creates a warm atmosphere perfect for families or date night. Popular tunes play on the speakers. Small bottles filled with fresh flowers make inviting, simple centerpieces, coupled with a mix of blue, green and clear Mason jars for drinking glasses. Utensils rest comfortably on nautical cloth napkins. Open for lunch, supper and Sunday Brunch, I’ve had the pleasure of dining here on many occasions for all but supper.
One of the most popular Sunday Brunch dishes has to be the House Made Beignets, a plate piled high with powdered sugar-dusted doughnuts, served with chocolate sauce. Reminiscent of dulce de leche, the sauce has sweet caramel notes. Other Sunday Brunch dishes include hearty selections such as Country Fried Steak and Eggs, Chicken and Biscuits, Bacon, Egg and Cheese Croissant, and the Croque Madame. If you enjoy a good champagne cocktail, the $10 bottomless mimosas make the restaurant a motivating choice.
The Country Fried Steak and Eggs feature two buttermilk biscuits topped with collards and country fried steak, finished with poached eggs and gravy. Come hungry!
Consistent with the widely held belief of many a good chef, the husband and wife team at Angel Oak Restaurant prides itself on sourcing local, seasonal ingredients to best highlight the cuisine of the community. South Carolina farmers and purveyors including Geechie Boy Market and Mill, Legare Farms, Blackbird Farms, Limehouse Produce, Saffron Bakery and Burbages provide fresh ingredients from breads and grits to produce, beef, pork and eggs. The restaurant boasts its own herb garden.
Lunch, including a daily Blue Plate Special, features a variety of appetizers, salads and entrees. On my last visit, I ordered the sampler plate with Bacon Braised Collards, Tomato Salad and Mac N’ Cheese. Fresh and well executed, it was every Southerner’s taste of home. Mainstays like Fried Green Tomatoes, House Made Pimento Cheese and Fried Pickle Chips offer familiar comfort. A nice selection of local beers are available, along with a standard wine list.
So, the next time you’re stuck in traffic on Savannah Highway, stop in to Angel Oak Restaurant. Unassuming and rustic, its recipe for success is clear: Quality ingredients, locally sourced + friendly service in a unique environment. What more could a diner want?
New to Some Kinda Good?
Now based in Charleston, South Carolina, Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” she is the former Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the television program “Statesboro Cooks.” From 2012 – ’14, she appeared regularly as Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market and wrote as a guest blogger for Visit Savannah and The Local Palate. In addition, her work is published in Moments magazine and Connect Statesboro. Her culinary accomplishments are recognized in two publications: She is a featured alumna in Georgia Southern Magazine (Spring ’14) and the “Go Girl!” in Moments magazine (March 2104), a tabloid for moms and modern women. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk.
Mornings and I have been butting heads since 1983–the year I was born. That’s why brunch is quite possibly the best concept ever. I love everything about it. The idea that sleeping in is perfectly acceptable, the ease of drinking coffee near afternoon, the pleasure of indulging in breakfast and lunch foods simultaneously…it all feels a bit devious, but oh-so-good. When I roll to the big city of Atlanta, discovering new brunch spots is my tolerate-six-lane-traffic and fast-paced-people salvation. Upon my last visit, fate introduced me to Watershed on Peachtree. As if the complimentary valet parking wasn’t enough, the country ham biscuits served with peach marmalade, local honey and whipped butter almost sent me over the edge. It’s a Southern jewel with big presence, in a location where the competition is ravenous.
Recently named one of the Best New Restaurants in the American South by Conde Nast Traveler, the highfalutin’ eatery is an upscale farm-to-table experience I believe everyone in the free world should try at least once. I ordered the Bay Bloody Mary above, when I learned it was seasoned with Old Bay. Garnished with pickled green beans, pimento-stuffed olives and a juicy lime wedge, the souped-up cocktail and salted rim had me at hello.
Country ham is a rarity in restaurants anymore. To see it featured on the menu in its rightful place between two flaky, fall-apart-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits…what is life? Other Starters on the brunch menu include Pimento Cheese Toast, Wild Mushroom Toast, Sausage Gravy & Biscuit served with bacon jam and fine herbs, and Smoked Ham Wrapped Gulf Shrimp a la plancha (grilled).
I’m attracted to all things coastal, even more so when I feel landlocked. Naturally, I ordered the Coconut Pancakes served with coconut syrup and a side of bacon. The bacon was cooked to perfection without an ounce of fat…lean and crispy, the perfect crunch to the meal. At just $10, the pancake stack was sweet and satisfying, keeping me full late into the day.
We also tried the Huevos Rancheros and Chilaquiles featuring eggs any style, Heywood’s andouille sausage and salsa ranchero. My boyfriend ordered a side of fries because the table’s order next to us looked so appetizing. Potatoes rock. Offering a variety of sophisticated, yet recognizable dishes like Chicken Fried Poached Eggs, Seafood Melange and a Crabby Shrimp Burger, the brunch menu also boasts classics like the Southern Cobb and Wild Georgia Shrimp Salads. Prices range from $6.50 for Starters to $18.50 for Steak & Eggs.
Watershed on Peachtree has a beautiful, raw setting that’s bright and open with modern lighting. From the moment you set foot in the elegant entryway, the cheerful and clean atmosphere invites you to stay.
Our server, John had been waiting tables at the restaurant for just four months, but was very informative and most helpful. He told us all about the famous fried chicken served only on Wednesdays. In Southern Living magazine this month, Watershed on Peachtree is considered an upscale place to get The South’s Best Fried Chicken, noting it’s “always sold out by 8 p.m.” He also shared that Executive Chef Joe Truex, native Louisianian, couldn’t wait to begin serving up gumbo on Thursday nights.
Watershed on Peachtree has a commitment to seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Many of the cocktails are even organic! With an ever-changing menu, the restaurant’s cocktail napkins read, “creative and delicious Southern food enjoyed in comfort and community.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.