A week ago this morning, we were entering Georgia’s Union with growling tummies and expectations of Chef Nate Martin’s Organic Soul Food Southern style. Both the growling tummies and our expectations were met and even improved upon and we had the pleasure of meeting Chef Nate who was already in the kitchen despite running late service the night before!
The interior of Georgia’s Union is washed in cool greys, vivid blues and highlighted by perfectly placed whites and exposed wood beams. The entire dining room is centered by a gorgeous chandelier that had me thinking about how I could re-create the look from my own ceiling. Classy and charming and, since it was practically crack of dawn for South Beach (10am), there were only a few of us digging into brunch.
The menu is simple with some intriguing dishes and combinations and reasonably priced for Brunch. I like having savory, non-breakfast options – that’s the point of brunch so I felt that the menu was well-balanced. The menu also gives the option of a smaller, lower cost plate which was fantastic – more opportunities to try more dishes!
We started with some of the Cold Fixins – The Roasted Tomato and Cucumber Salad and “Bleu Collared” Greens.
My first thought on biting into the crispy cucumbers and lightly roasted tomatoes with generous heaps of farmer’s cheese was CLEAN. The food was fresh, simple, satisfying and CLEAN. The sunflower greens/sprouts added an extra crunch and “green” taste as well. Lightly dressed and perfect to get the palate excited. The $8 plate which was the smaller offering is what we ordered – pictured below.
Both salads got a solid thumbs up from Bev – our Healthy Goddess influence – for taste, presentation, and freshness! In fact her favorite overall dish was the “Bleu Collared” Greens.
The “Bleu Collared” Greens were a dream and I am still craving that salad. Chef Nate created a bowl full of unique flavors that married wonderfully: baby greens, oyster mushrooms, roasted beets, Winter Park black and bleu cheese (OMG!), honey’d pecans and apple cider vinaigrette. I could have eaten another bowl but we had more glorious tastes to experience …
Warning for those that are not Froggievores … I like frog legs. I like fried frog legs with buttermilk dressing and homemade hot sauce EVEN BETTER. Chef Nate’s philosophy and mission for Georgia’s Union is to create food that makes people feel good in their hearts, minds and bodies. The fried food that is on offer is all cooked in non-hydrogenated oils with no trans fats and the oil is changed consistently.
The frog legs arrived in a basket with the dressing and the hot sauce on the side. It was one of the best hot sauces that I have ever had – evoking memories of Lousiana bayou cooking without burning my lips off. It added exactly what was needed for the Gulf Frog Legs – a little bite. The hot sauce is house-made and no, they do not share the recipe but we tried!
Continuing on our tour through Georgia’s Union Hot Fixins, we ordered the liver and onions; Not the traditional liver and onions but golden fried organic chicken livers, caramelized onion aioli and pickled onions. I never turn down aioli – never and I am so glad that is my policy. These perfectly fried little nuggets of chicken liver goodness dipped into that caramelized onion aioli were transporting!
Brunch is not brunch without an Eggs Benedict so I picked the Smoked Fish Hash Southern Bennie with poached eggs, corn-flax muffing, hollandaise, crisp taters and smoked fish hash.
The moment of poking a poached egg and watching the silky yolk pour down the side of a Benedict is a bit sacred for me. You have to take Eggs Benedict seriously after all – the mix of yolk and hollandaise and, in this case, smoked fish is all serious business. And delicious business. The muffin had a bit of sweet that highlighted the smoke of the fish but all was united by mouthfuls of the ingredients together. Who would have thought?
One more dish on our tour through Brunch at Georgia’s Union and it turned out to be my most favorite dish of the day. Since eating at some wonderful Southern restaurants lately, grits, more specifically, FRESH GRITS, are a revelation to me. I always thought they tasted like glue and never bothered but FRESH GRITS are whole different story. Light, fluffy and truly something I could eat every day, so when I saw the “Crayfish” and Grits on the menu, I knew I had to taste it.
Florida spiny lobster (season just starting!!), Riverview Farms white corn grits, green onions, roasted tomatoes, lobster jus and topped with a sprinkle of lobster roe … this dish was magnificent. I will admit to wanting more of a bite to the “crayfish” so I availed myself of the hot sauce sitting on the table and O.M.G., it was precisely what I wanted. A mound of fresh white corn grits with lobster and lobster jus dripping down the sides – People … this is HEAVEN. And you can have it bite after bite.
Our visit ended with a chat with Chef Nate Martin who quite simply ROCKS. He is down to earth and passionate about his food and the quality. He spoke about his mission for Georgia’s Union food – to make people feel GOOD after they eat there; to allow people who are sensitive to foods a place to come and relax knowing that the food is prepared healthfully and the ingredients are locally sourced, organic and handpicked. Check the back of the menu to see all of the local growers and artisans that they work with. Early in our visit, we spoke with the excellent Front of House Manager, Alex, who also shared that mission. What a wonderful thing to have a knowledgeable team that shares the vision and mission AND executes it.
I cannot wait to eat at Georgia’s Union again … I still have the Georgia Cobbler to taste and Pecan Tart and oh so many other wonderful dishes from the Organic Soul of Chef Nate. Add Georgia’s Union to your list and for just a bit, relax into honest-to-goodness great food.