Around a table set for 12, food is being passed and conversation ranges from catching up on extended family to gardening and canning. One person holds a bowl of greens while another takes a spoonful. Another person remarks on how the fried chicken has a bit of a kick. It could be Sunday dinner in Georgia but it’s actually the inaugural Sunday Supper at The Eatery at The Grant House, on Officer’s Row in Vancouver.
Back in May, owners Scott and Sarah Flury hosted an intimate group of 30 with a traditional menu put together by Chef Capers Ogletree. Born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., Ogletree has fond memories of the Gullah tradition he was exposed to along the coastline.
Guests began their culinary journey with pimento cheese and saltines — a Southern staple — pickled deviled eggs, farm vegetables with a spring onion dip and Grant House pickled vegetables. The next wave of food presented in shared bowls and platters was a salad of baby lettuce and buttermilk dressing, ham-braised greens and fermented hot sauce, shells and cheese, Ayer’s Creek black turtle beans, biscuits with smoked salted butter and fried chicken with sides of cayenne honey to drizzle over it.
Dishes made their way around the table until diners put their hands up in surrender and then dessert was presented. The sweet ending to a well-executed evening was, appropriately, buttermilk rhubarb pie.
“This was a very traditional Sunday supper. It’s what my granny would’ve had out on the table. (Growing up) fried chicken was my favorite,” Ogletree said.
Monthly Sunday Suppers are now a staple at The Eatery at the Grant House and Scott hopes that people find the experience as appealing as he does.
“We thought it would a great opportunity for people to gather and have conversations, to meet new people (and) to build a sense of community,” Scott said.
Ogletree is formulating each menu around the seasonal bounty. He and his team work hard on cultivating relationships with local farms like Red Truck Farm and April Joy Farm in Ridgefield, Wobbly Cart Farm in Rochester and Gathering Together Farm, Groundwork Organics and Winters farms in Oregon. Artisan crafters like Briar Rose Creamery in Dundee, beef from Laney Family Farms in Canby and seafood from Portland’s Wilder Land and Sea deliver the fresh ingredients that Eatery at the Grant House is committed to bringing to the Vancouver food scene.
June’s supper was a Pacific Northwest theme with artisan cheeses from Washington and Oregon, oysters on the half shell, wild mushrooms foraged by chef de cuisine Tyler Jaskey, Dungeness crab and cedar plank salmon. The substantial fillets were met by an orchestra of “oohs” and “aahs” as they became the center piece for a coastal-inspired feast.
Serving 24 to 30 people simultaneously is much different than a typical evening of restaurant dining where patrons trickle in throughout the course of several hours. Ogletree attributes the calm and relaxed delivery to his team, which consists of above-mentioned Jaskey, sous chef Leadie Cole and pastry chef Sarah Austin. Ogletree, himself, has a breadth of experience at just about every Portland restaurant worth mentioning, including Little Bird, Le Pigeon, Ned Ludd, St. Jack and Ava Gene’s.
Ogletree, 33, speaks like an old soul when he describes his approach to Sunday Supper. It is his vision to create an atmosphere that moves patrons out of their comfort zone. He is so passionate about the presentation and the atmosphere because, he says, it’s no longer done.
“You have to put your phone away and ask for food to be passed and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’” Ogletree said. “It forces a conversation and it forces real time, and to gather and connect over a meal. The whole idea of communal eating and spending time is very important to me (because) it’s a lost art.”
To help ease attendees into family style dining, The Eatery offers a social hour prior to the evening meal. Working alongside the culinary team, bar manager Jeffrey Dorman crafts different cocktails each month that complement the cuisine du jour. In May, that was a Mint Julep in copper glasses, Planter’s Punch and a 2014 Gilbert Cellars Chardonnay.
June brought a Strawberry Spruce Bramble made with gin, house-made strawberry and mint gastrique and house-made spruce vinegar and a spruce-tipped garnish; a Cucumber Vesper – a twist on the classic with Hendrick’s, a cucumber-nuanced gin, and Prairie Cucumber Vodka with a splash of Lillet Blanc; and a Boulevardier – similar to a Negroni with Campari and sweet vermouth but using whiskey instead of gin.
With July fast approaching, The Eatery crew is looking forward to an all-out Low Country Boil set up under the summer sky.
“It’s going to be warm. You’re going to want to be outside, eat something with your fingers (and) have a glass of cold rosé,” Ogletree said.
Soft shell crab, shrimp steamers, mussels, first-of-the-season sweet summer corn and in-house sausage will be on tap. In true Low Country feast fashion, tables will be adorned with newspaper to dump the crab onto and outdoor games like bocce ball, corn hole and ladder toss will complete the summer party scene.
Dorman added that more focused wine pairings will also be available with each course for an additional charge. Half glass and full glass pours will be offered and the selection will be locally-sourced from acclaimed Washington and Oregon wine regions.
“If you haven’t dined with us at The Eatery at the Grant House, Sunday Supper is the perfect gateway drug,” Ogletree said.
The next Sunday Supper will be July 1. To reserve a seat at the next Sunday Supper at The Eatery at The Grant House, go to www.eateryatthegranthouse.com.