Frog Hollow Tavern
Five Maudies – Highly Recommended
I just got back from 18-months in Afghanistan and Iraq and, when I come home from places like that where the only food is normally lousy mess hall swill, one of the first orders of business is good food. So, for my birthday, Lynn, daughter Caitie and me went to dinner at a restaurant in downtown Augusta, Frog Hollow Tavern. I hadn’t heard of it before, but ran across it when looking for locally grown food. This place epitomizes the local food movement and opened just before I left.
Their goal is gourmet food that supports local growers at reasonable prices and they live up to that. Almost everything on the menu is local and everything is sustainable, nothing conventionally produced here, except maybe the alcohol at the bar and wine list. The entire experience was beyond any expectations I may have had. What a find. It is going to be hard to get me to go to any other restaurant for a while.
The restaurant is located on Broad Street, the main downtown thoroughfare in Augusta, Georgia. Augusta has a lovely downtown that is really a gem that the suburbanites
are afraid to go to. They prefer the franchise restaurants. Really a shame, but their loss. It is a nice setting and there are some outdoor tables that are great for nice weather and smokers. Inside, there are tables and booths and a bar on the left side. There is also another dining room that you don’t know is there unless you go back to the bathroom. Obviously, we sat in a booth in the main room. Tables were both private and close together. It was a Thursday night and the place was busy, always a good sign.
Service was amazingly good, our waiter was superb and the front of house manager was great. They had some really cool specialty cocktails. Now, we rarely get specialty cocktails, but decided to try them here. Lynn got an apple cider based cocktail that was unbelievable, especially with it being fall. I got a gin and ginger ale drink that was also excellent.
The menu is divided into small and large plates, essentially appetizers and main courses. They also have desserts that they tell you about at the end of a meal. The menu selections were very eclectic and wide-ranging, but were decidedly Southern in inspiration. That was really nice to see. This is what I would call New American at its best. Here are the small plates we ordered:
- Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Titan Farms Pickled Peaches, Local Blackberry Syrup Drizzle, Georgia Olive Oil
- Wild Maine Mussels, White Wine, Saffron, Shallots, Garlic, Grilled Sourdough Bread
- A Tomato Bisque that was a special
All three were wonderful, the combination of flavors in the foie gras dish was simply heavenly. Foie gras on a crostini with a bit of the peaches, blackberry syrup, and olive oil was a bite of pure bliss. My Maine mussels were not local, of course, but they were so good and the fresh sourdough bread and white wine cooking liquid was perfect. This was also a huge appetizer, it could have been a main course. The tomato bisque was incredibly fresh tasting and excellent.
Our main courses were:
- Wild Caught Shrimp, Vidalias, Pork Lardons, House Made Andouille, & Local Tomatoes Over Organic Anson Mills Grits
- Spice Crusted Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast, NC Roasted Sweet Potatoes & SC Benne Seeds, Sautéed Local Greens, KY Bourbon Barrel Sorghum Syrup
Both Caitie and I got the duck and I must say, this is the best duck I have ever had. Perfectly cooked, just the right amount and consistency of fat and the sorghum syrup was an incredible accent to it. In addition to breast, there was duck leg. The weakest thing about any of the dishes we had were the greens and sweet potatoes that came with the duck. There were good, but neither were cooked enough for my taste. The shrimp and grits were extremely rich, creamy and very, very good. I especially liked the lardons and the shrimp were perfectly cooked.
The wine list was not huge, but the wines were selected for excellence and reasonable price and they have succeeded. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a bottle of wine. We had two bottles, an ’09 Shiraz, Layer Cake, South Australia, and an ’08 Sangiovese, Luna, Napa. Both were very nice. We had dessert, creme brulee and cheese cake, both good.
There are a few great restaurants in Augusta and Frog Hollow Tavern is my new favorite.
1282 Broad Street Augusta, GA
Wednesdays – Thursdays 5pm to 10pm and Friday – Saturday 5pm – 10:30pm