Fine Dining at Pursell Farms
Chef Andrea Griffith embraces the farm-to-table movement outside Birmingham.
By Kayla Smith
In Sylacauga, Alabama, about an hour from Birmingham, you’ll find FarmLinks at Pursell Farms, a 3,500-acre boutique resort that’s been ranked the best golf resort in the state. Though you might expect the 3,500 pristine acres and superb accommodations, you’ll be surprised to find a dining experience as impressive as the resort itself.
Andrea Griffith (pictured), the new executive chef at Pursell Farms, is committed to using farm-to-table ingredients for the fine Southern dining she calls “country chic.” With more than 13 years of experience and 11 American Culinary Federation accredited medals, Griffith is using her skills and talent to create a dining experience that is true to the state of Alabama.
At Pursell Farms, every ingredient is local. With roots dating back to a 1904 fertilizer company, the property’s own 1-acre vegetable garden is the source for corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, okra, peas and green beans, which Griffith uses to make the condiments and meals at The Grille. Griffith also uses chicken, eggs, pork, and lamb from local farms, beef from a farm near Atlanta and cheese from Atlanta and Birmingham.
Since ingredients are determined by what’s in season, the menu changes daily. Breakfast usually means hearty Southern favorites like gravy biscuits, flapjacks and sausage, as well as homemade granola and cereal. The lunch menu might include a burger – like the popular Dogleg made with grilled sausage and candied bacon on a baguette – and farm-fresh salads. The dinner menu features filets and ribeyes, as well as Griffith’s own take on Southern classics, like shrimp and grits made with local grits, cream, local cheese and hot sauce.
For Griffith, the product and guests are the biggest inspirations for her cooking. “Seeing it from beginning to end in its purist form” and and seeing guests’ reactions are what makes her job worthwhile. It’s the details that make a dining experience incredible, and Griffith makes a special point to focus on each one. “From the greeting to the farewell – if you fail at one part of a meal, you fail every time,” she says.
The Grille restaurant at Pursell Farms is open to the public, not just resort guests, so stop by if you’re in the Sylacuga area to taste Griffith’s farm-to-table experience.
This weekend, May 24 and 25, Pursell Farms presents a Vine & Dine event of regional food and wine pairings. Guest winemaker and enthusiast, Harry Root of Grassroots Wine will provide the wines and be available to speak with guests about winemaking. Overnight options for the event include Parker Lodge ($399 per couple), a cottage ($349) or cabin ($295). For more information, call 256-208-2051.
Photos courtesy of Pursell Farms.