Montaluce Winery announced today that Chef Steven Hartman and General Manager Brad Egnor have left the winery’s restaurant, Le Vigne, to open their own restaurant called Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Montaluce said, “It is a terrible loss.”
Located in Dahlonega, Buttermilk Fried Chicken opened earlier this month and is co-owned by Hartman and Egnor. Though his original intention was to remain at Le Vigne despite his new venture, Hartman’s last day there was Friday.
The inspiration for Buttermilk grew out of the staff meals at Le Vigne. According to Hartman, “We were going through a lot of chicken with the weddings at Montaluce. That left lots of wings and thighs around.” Those leftover chicken parts were cooked sous vide (slow cooking “under vacuum” in plastic bags in a water bath) and served for staff meals. Hartman says, “We discovered the best fried chicken ever.”
Hartman explains that as a result of this discovery, Buttermilk “began with a playful conversation with Brad. We joked that there’s no fried chicken in Dahlonega. It turns out that down the street, there was a place available.”
The restaurant soaks Springer Mountain chicken in a sweet tea brine for 12 hours before being cooking it sous vide in buttermilk. The moist and perfectly-cooked bird is then breaded and fried just long enough to become crispy. Hartman tells me that cooking the chicken sous vide “breaks down the connective tissue in the thighs, legs and wings so that there’s less sinew.”
In addition to the chicken, at Buttermilk you’ll find locally grown veggies including creamed corn, fried okra and collards cooked with Benton’s ham bones and a dash of cider vinegar. Hartman also prepares his mom’s Coca-Cola cupcakes with Coca-Cola cream cheese frosting.
Sounds like a day trip might be in order. (And my own test run with the fried chicken in the sous vide machine!)
6:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturdays, noon – 4 p.m. Sundays. 2261 Oak Grove Road, Dahlonega. 706-867-4963. $.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog
– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team.