By Krista Reese
JASPER'S MAIN STREET faces in Jasper blue-ridged peaks on both sides, its air as cool and clean as an old-fashioned icehouse. On a recent Monday night, it was as quiet as you might expect for a rural, mountain community, with one exception: The lively folks crowding into 61 Main, a new restaurant by hardworking chef/owner Jenna Schreiber.
On this bargain night, diners choose an entrée, side and dessert, plus beverage, for an incredible $12. That price becomes even more incredible once you sample this deli- cious, expertly prepared food, and learn that Schreiber sources almost everything - from the mountain trout and spring lamb to the goat's milk cheese and heirloom citrus - from local and regional farmers. Even the coffee is roasted locally.
A Johnson & Wales culinary school alum, Schreiber worked in the demanding Charleston, S.C., restau- rant scene for a decade before pick- ing Jasper as the spot for the "farm- to-table" place she wanted to run. (Note: At presstime, the restaurant was scheduled to close for four days in late July to move into a new, larger location at 49 South Main, the old Jasper movie theater. The name, menu and focus, however, will remain the same. Please call to confirm before going.)Schreiber's husband and the cou- ple's genial servers work with the kind of understated joy that comes when you know you're onto some- thing good. And is it ever: On the night we visited, we sampled a signa- ture cocktail - not included in the special, but well worth $7 for the bracing "grapefruit gimlet" of Bombay gin, Cee Bee's grapefruit, lime and a small splash of simple syrup. (Wine and beer is also extra.)
Our meal choices, including some of the best pan-fried trout I've ever sampled, with black pepper and bacon gravy, had us shaking our heads: How do they do this so well ... at this price? Other choices included a homemade pimento cheese-stuffed burger, Buffalo chicken tenders, egg- plant lasagne, a veggie plate and hal- ibut medallion Milanese.
Schreiber's husband muttered something about making good use of extra produce to keep everything fresh, but we suspect that in addition to using up whatever is left from the weekend, the night is a loss leader, bringing hesitant newcomers into the restaurant and making believers out of them.
We also opted for small soups as starters ($3 each extra). Both were out- standing - the potato and dill was light and tasted of earthy tuber and delicate herb, instead of the heavy cream and salt you often encounter. I'd never had a "lamb and couscous soup" before, but this was a clever, tasty twist on Italian wedding soup, with couscous pearls and lamb nuggets in light broth.
If the tender, fleshy trout was head- shakingly good, the scallops and grits were also mind-benders: Dewy-cen- tered, seared scallops over cheddar grits, spiked with Vidalia onions and sweet peppers. I loved the braised, slightly bitter greens, but the cabbage and onion casserole was the kind of old-fashioned First Methodist cook- book special I dearly love: Fluffy but hearty, it's a kind of cross between stuffing and soufflé.
Dessert was a couple of home- baked brownie bites, with a bit of whipped cream and a strawberry. What more could anyone want?
Well, how about breakfast every weekday, with house-baked pastries? Lunch most days, too? And a seasonal dinner menu on weekends with dishes like duck cacciatore, pork osso bucco and a chicken and biscuits dish made from bacon-maple sweet potato biscuits?
Count me a believer. And credit Jenna Schreiber for knowing that as progress marches forward, it also looks back in admiration. 61 Main is, like its tomatoes, an heirloom passed on to a new generation.
By Carl Danbury
The first farm-to-table dining experience in Jasper
Jenna Schreiber grew up in Somerset, Pa., and was trained at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston. After cutting her teeth in some of Charleston's finer restaurants, she took a job as a private chef for five years, learning new dishes for her discerning client and his customers. Looking to establish her own roots, Schreiber and her husband chose Jasper for their first foray into the restaurant business. If all the results are as glorious as those we found during a recent visit to 61 Main, Schreiber should have no worries for the future.
On Monday nights, 61 Main, instituted a special offering for new customers and for those who already enjoy her culinary creations. For just $12, guests can choose an entree, a side item and dessert. I started with a house salad and chose Caccitora Duck, a dish I had never sampled, nor seen offered before, and it was fabulous. The sauce combines tomatoes, kalamata olives, white beans, greens and duck ragout and accented the dark meat superbly. Whereas some red wine sauces can be a bit tart, Schreiber's version is much more elegant and flavorful. My wife selected the 74 Ranch burger, from cattle raised locally by Larry and Pam Butler, while our two children sampled the buffalo chicken tenders and mashed potatoes. Homemade desserts are on display as you enter the cozy restaurant, and on this night the special included either vanilla ice cream with peanut butter or raspberry mouse. Sorry, but we tried the tempting carrot cake and chocolate mousse cake we saw as we entered instead, for a slight upcharge, and both were moist and delicious.
Schreiber has a passion for the farm-to-table concept, utilizing as many local ingredients as possible, with an eye fixed on both the local community and the environment. Fresh vegetables and eggs are delivered by Dig It Farm, operated by Kip and Michelle Foster, while Whitestone Farm, owned by Russell and Kristina Cutts, provides tender lettuces, herbs and other seasonal items. 61 Main's coffee is roasted locally by Foggy Hollow Coffee Roasters, owned and operated by Dave and Patti Raygor.
The dinner menu, which changes seasonally, currently offers Schreiber's tempting versions of chicken & biscuits, scallops & risotto, crispy flounder, short rib stroganoff, caccitora duck, pork osso bucco and other entrees. Four salad choices are accompanied by homemade dressings and five appetizers also are offered. 61 Main also offers homemade Pimento cheese, and a crispy polenta cake served with drunken mushrooms and parmigiano cheese. We encourage you to save room for dessert!
The quaint restaurant, not so coincidentally located at 61 North Main Street in Jasper, boasts a warm, cozy atmosphere where all customers seem to feel right at home. The restaurant is open weekdays for breakfast from 8-10:30 am and for lunch 11 am-3 pm. Brunch/Lunch is served Saturday 10 am-3 pm. Monday Night Supper is served from 5-9 pm, while dinner is offered Thurs. through Sat. from 5-10 pm.
Please tell 61 Main that Points North recommended them, and we do so highly!
How often is it that you actually see a chef in the garden? Through Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA), Whitestone Farm grows it and 61 Main loads it onto your plate—fresh from Russell and Kristina Cutts' farm, with loving preparation by chef Jenna Schreiber. 400 Edition applauds their efforts to go back to the basics of fresh, local products provided in an earth-friendly way.
Whitestone Farm provides garden favorites like mesclun salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, peppers, carrots, winter greens, and such. They cultivate indigenous plants such as Jerusalem artichoke, blackberries, blueberries, mushrooms, woods-violet and wood-sorrel. Naturalized mus**** and lambsquarters grow alongside starts of spinach, tatsoi, beets, and cabbage. Their herbs are predominantly heirloom varieties such as garlic chives, Egyptian walking onions, lemon thyme, and chocolate mint. Annual membership in the CSA is $50.00 and members get 10% off of all marked products. A visit to the Whitestone Farm Stand just north of Jasper on Highway 515 is well worth the trip. See their web site, www.whitestonefarm.biz, for directions and more information.
As much fun as the farm experience is, one of 400 Edition's favorite ways to enjoy these fresh products is by ordering them at 61 Main in historic downtown Jasper. 61 Main 's 100% commitment to the concept of farm-to-table is inspiring, especially since they serve it up in such a tasty fashion. If you haven't eaten there yet, we can't wait for you to see how delightful fresh-from-the-farm dining can be. You can read all about our recent dining experience in Good Eating on page 23. See www.61Main.com to get more information about Jenna and her team.
Open For Lunch
Monday - Saturday, 11am-3pm
9am - 3pm
Open for Supper
Monday night, 5pm - 9pm
Open for Dinner
Thursday - Saturday, 5pm-9pm
Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between 3-5pm we serve dessert, coffee, soup, and the bar is open.
49 South Main Street | Jasper, GA 30143
For Reservations, Please Call (706) 253-7289
Or Book Online