SETTLED AMONG City Market’s buzzy bars and pubs, a.Lure’s rustic-meets-modern dining showcases a contemporary take on Lowcountry cuisine.
Crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits and Lowcountry boil aren’t just being elevated to an award-winning level here — they’re also comprised of locally sourced ingredients (Perc Coffee, Sweetgrass Dairy, Anson Mills and Low Country Seafood are just some of the regional and local purveyors who make up a.Lure’s source roster).
Here, Chef and Director of Operations Richard Byrd gives us the lowdown on Lowcountry dining.
ON LOCAL FLAVOR The Lowcountry style of cooking involves things like black-eyed peas, local South Carolina rice, okra, tomatoes and a ton of other local, fresh ingredients — there are a lot of nods to Gullah and soul cooking. Then you add the coastal style, and that’s fresh local fish and shellfish. When you combine these, you have a great meal.
ON SOURCING SEAFOOD A.Lure uses two different sources for our seafood, both of which are local and have been in Savannah for many years. Using local vendors assures our guests the freshest quality of seafood available. It also means we get to help our community by keeping our local fishermen in business. What this looks like for me is that every day I get a fresh fish sheet, and I can pick what we would like for the day. Nothing is frozen, and all seafood is brought in daily.
The demand for fresh fish and seafood has increased as farm-to-table has become more popular. The old adage “the early bird gets the worm” is so true now. If you want a specific fish or an amount of, say, shrimp, you need to order as early as possible. But it also means nothing is sitting for long, and you are going to get the best fish out there.
ON PERSONAL FAVORITES I love the versatile nature of seafood, in that with a simple change of spice or sauce, you can take the fish or seafood to another level. I love to pair seafood with tarragon, which brings a new level of flavor to fish, shrimp and scallops. When pairing wine with seafood, you must know the seafood and its character. Is it a steak-like fish like swordfish, or is it flakey and buttery like sea bass? These things play into the wine you choose. I like a chardonnay with flakey, buttery whole fish and pinot grigio with a steak or dense fish.
ON CREATING A COASTAL MENU Developing a menu at a.Lure is a long process: We work on recipes, flavors and combinations. One standout is our pea and carrot scallop dish. It’s mushroom risotto, green peas, baby clip top carrots and pan-seared scallops, served with a carrot and ginger puree and green pea coulis. Another good pick is our seafood pasta, which combines pasta with local shrimp, local fish of the day, crawfish tails and a dijon cream sauce.