A Night in Key West, Georgia

This quiet morning, Arnie and I are sitting on the backyard deck of our kids house in Decatur, Georgia enjoying a spot of sun. We are surrounded by the animals we love, three dogs and Cracker the African Gray, while we watch a big blue jay forage in the carpet of fall leaves blanketing the backyard. What comfort there is in the quiet times of just being, without the need to do much of anything. It is my favorite way to write; sitting in a beautiful space just free thinking. I resolve to do more of it in the future.Image result for images of blue jays

We are in Georgia to attend an event at The Mystic Grill that took place last night. Son, Chef Scott was the Guest Chef at the Mystic Grill for a unique Key West inspired theme dinner and we were grateful for the invitation to attend. The Mystic Grill is a restaurant located in the quaint little town of Covington, Georgia. They specialize in New Southern cuisine (the comfort of Southern food with a new twist) and you can have a look at them and their menu on Facebook.

The Mystic Grill sits on the perimeter of the town square.
The Mystic Grill sits on the perimeter of the town square.

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The historic building that Mystic Grill calls home was built in 1906 by C.S. Thompson as a home for the Bank of Covington. Over the years it has housed many businesses and a saloon. The saloon which stood on the site in 1883, belonged to “Col.” Robert Bagby who, some say, still puts in an occasional appearance to this day. Rooftop seating overlooks downtown Covington Square. If you are ever traveling in the vicinity, be sure to put a stop at The Mystic Grill on your itinerary.

The town of Covington itself is famous as a ready-made location for many well-known films and three current television shows, The Originals, The Vampire Diaries and Sleepy Hollow. These latter three are admittedly not our cup of tea, but follow this link to see all of the movies that have been shot on location in Covington. Of note recently is Oprah Winthrey’s Selma, the story of MLK.         http://www.filmcovington.com

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(Remember this clock tower from The Heat of the Night?)

Downtown Covington is set around a circular common park with benches under the old oaks. The architecture of the business district is historical and Victorian in style; the perfect natural movie set. There is a program of restoration and preservation going on and it is apparent that the merchants take an active role in making this a pleasant place to visit. The Mystic Grill sits right on the perimeter of the park and we enjoyed walking about town before heading over to dine.

Entering the dining room we were greeted with an aromatic prelude of what was to come. Scott had the evening’s fare all planned out for us, so all we had to decide upon was which wine to order. Not too hard! Arnie chose a Merlot and I opted for the suggested pairing of a  2012  California Reisling. The first course for us to share was Crispy Fried Gulf Oysters served on Butter bibb lettuce, crackled bacon and topped with a chipotle lime aioli and a Lobster Bisque made with Sherry cream and confit lobster on a chive and goat cheese crostini. Oh my!

After the apps were served, Chefs Scott and Tim visited the table to say hi. It’s great to see your kids being able to live out their passion and Scott’s passion has been the creation of fine food and hospitality since as long as I can remember. He’s blessed with a warm and friendly personality that makes him a natural teacher in the kitchen.

Appetizers were followed by a colorful Fall Harvest Super Salad, a combo of beet, kale, cabbage, granny apple, walnuts and feta topped by an orange cider vinaigrette. We ate about half of it and then I rescued Arnie by removing his plate to the side to save for later. I knew we would need the tummy room for our entre!

We did not wait long before our wonderful server, Tara, arrived at the table with two entrees for us to share. Tara was a big part of making the evening special. She is a delightful person to meet and as professional and accommodating as she could be! The Red Snapper “Cayo Hueso” was beautifully stacked on Belly of Peruvian mashed potatoes (blue) and tostones and topped with a mango tomato compote. It was finished with a key lime buerre blanc and passion fruit drizzle. This dish was paired with a 2012 South African Chardonnay. This snapper is a dish that I had before when Scott was working in the keys and it is one of my favorite fishes that he prepares. Arnie really enjoyed the other entre, a Certified Angus Beef Osso Bucco Rib which was slow braised and served with a mushroom medley, roasted garlic mash potatoes and finished with a port and veal demi-glace. It was paired with a Borsao Granacha, 2013, from Spain.

Scott came back to check in again and see how we were enjoying the entrees and we were able to catch a quick picture with him before he needed to get back to the kitchen. How did I get such a tall one? We said good-bye for the evening and took a deep breath before dessert.

Scott and Mom
Scott and Mom

Dessert was a delight! It was a trio tasting of truffles, key lime tart and creme mousse with raspberries. Served on a little tray with two spoons, it made us take turns tasting and savoring this little bit of sweetness that was just perfect to end on. Although there was a wine pairing with this course too, we had to drive home, so we passed!

After dinner, we walked back to the truck in the dark with Arnie making vampire jokes. He suggested we walk around a bit more and I declined based on the fact that the store-keeper in the Vampire Tour store commented that the town did attract it’s share of nutjobs who took the fantasy of vampirism a bit too literally. That was enough for me. After a nice dinner like this, I was not in the mood to be dessert!

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