Published: February 01. 2013 2:00AM
Written and photographed by Renata Parker
Spencer Thompson is a matchmaker. Thompson, who is executive chef and partner at Devereaux’s, is an expert in pairing the perfect flavors together — a concept that steers the restaurant’s delicious tasting menus.
“We focus on fresh, small-batch ingredients that are indigenous to South Carolina — like sunchokes and John Haulk grits,” Thompson, who is a classically trained chef, says. “Downsizing the portion enhances the presentation and creates a strong flavor match.”
He draws his inspiration from a number of places — perhaps his favorite farmer’s market in Paris or a relative’s squash casserole experienced during a cross-country camping trip.
“Every ingredient has a history,” says Thompson, who revels in the back story of ingredients and such Old South dishes as the iconic “reezy peezy,” a purée of heritage Sea Island red peas served over Carolina gold rice, which he slides into his tasting menus.
Because fresh, local ingredients are the heart of every pairing, Thompson is a passionate forager. He meticulously sources from a band of sought-after artisanal producers including Iszy’s Heirlooms, Broken Oak Organics and Bethel Trails Farm.
Menu items change frequently based on the season and the availability of quality ingredients. For an introduction in flavor matching, start with the five-course Chef’s Tasting Menu. If you’re feeling adventurous, indulge in Devereaux’s Ultimate Tasting Menu, which features 10 spontaneous courses. It’s anyone’s guess what items Thompson will cleverly pair together on any given evening, but it’s certain that the experience will be extraordinary.
To give you an idea, a typical Ultimate Tasting Menu dinner may include items like the unbidden amuse-bouche of a scallop dumpling with bacon dust and tomato vinaigrette, followed by courses of artichoke soup with truffle tater tots or braised beef short ribs with crispy fingerling potatoes, tender baby leeks and finished with a mushroom jus.
For Valentine’s Day, diners will fall hard for Devereaux’s Aphrodisiac Menu, which includes seductive pairings using fresh oysters and plump lobster, and desserts with morsels of dark chocolate — hallmarks of a modern-day love potion.
Also on Valentine’s Day, Devereaux’s will debut its Chocolate Sphere, a decadent dessert featuring two chocolate sphere halves spiked with sweet custard, bourbon-braised apples, toasted pecans and meringue. Upon serving, the closed sphere is brushed with warm brown butter and caramel, causing the chocolate shell to implode, blending the flavors together. Sinfully delicious.
Take your dining experience and your taste buds to another level by opting to include wine pairings with each course. Now that’s a heavenly match.
|Devereaux's focuses on fresh, local ingredients.Renata Parker|