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Friday, February 7, 2014

Featured Dish: Pan-Roasted Guinea Hen at The Asbury

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM

The historic Dunhill Hotel recently unveiled its new crown jewel, The Asbury (235 N. Tryon St.), an upscale farm-to-table restaurant that fills the space formerly occupied by Harvest Moon Grille. The name has a swanky ring to it, no? Don't you just want to say "Asbury" in a smug English accent while holding a tea cup with your pinky out? It all sounds so dignified. And, it is.



Asbury's menu boasts locally sourced, modern Southern cuisine. At first glance, the Pan-Roasted Guinea Hen ($26) may sound fancy and is sure pretty enough to eat in your date-night getup, but it also displays the comforting familiarity of Southern dishes made by someone's granny. In fact, it has just as much heritage.

The guinea hen, a rare bird, is a game fowl similar to a pheasant, with a taste somewhere between a chicken and a turkey. This particular guinea hen hails from Carolina Heritage Farms in Florence, S.C., where it is grown specifically for executive chef Chris Coleman. The bird is cooked sous vide to juicy tenderness, then deftly pan-roasted and served atop a sweet and smooth Gilfeather turnip puree, another ingredient with history. The Gilfeather turnip, grown at nearby Barbee Farms, is currently listed in Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste, an archival catalogue of endangered heritage foods.

A Southern plate wouldn't be complete without greens and "dressing" - that is, stuffing for all you Northerners. Coleman serves ham-hock collards (also from Barbee Farms) alongside thick, bouncy squares of brioche dressing made with Calvander cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery, the thinnest strands of caramelized onions and fresh rosemary. The dish is finished with local oyster mushrooms from fungi phenom Rijad Jacic, of Clover Mushroom Farm. Balanced, well-sourced, comforting and beautiful. If I had to guess, I'd say Granny would be proud. I reckon you will be mighty pleased, too.

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