Being able to articulate the cultural origin of different foods tends to be a difficult task for the average consumer. One might find it easier to categorize food by season, if asked, but would likely employ shallow means of classification. Our seasonal food associations, such as ice cream with summer and pie with fall, seem less determined by culinary convention, and more by institution or commercial interest.
As fall transitions into winter and its bitter cold straits, what is grown and what is produced by local vendors and restaurants changes. Flavor profiles, consistencies and substance all transform with the seasons, so it would seem intuitive that our food habits might as well. This, however, as reflected by commercial markets, is not the case. Habits are hard things to break, but if you’re ready to put down your year-round McNuggets and try something new, here are some suggestions.
816 E. Broadway
A local staple in Columbia farmer’s markets, Ken Duzan opened Broadway Brewery in 2009 to feature a rotating menu of local produce and meat. Broadway Brewery’s menu in October began its transition from light, produce-dependent dishes of tomatoes, fruits and greens, to heavier, well-seasoned fare. Dishes of squash, richer meats and aromatic stocks are among the menu's limited, but diverse options. The Portobello mushroom risotto was perfectly cooked, a feat not consistently achieved in the restaurant world, and despite being a more filling dish, the flavor was light with citrus and herbs. Their spinach flatbread as an appetizer was a warm wholesome beginning, and a perfect pair with their hoppy, house-made IPA. Broadway Brewery also serves up local cuts of steak, which, compared to restaurants like Bleu, are quite reasonably priced.
10 Hitt Street
In a quiet spot of downtown, just on the precipice of noisier streets, Uprise Bakery serves up house-baked breads in addition to a full menu of sandwiches, soups and salads. From breakfast to lunch, Uprise’s food is homemade, and almost exclusively sourced from local vendors and farmers. Their chalkboard menu is a promising sign of revolving choices. Uprise takes something as mundane as a potato and uses it flexibly between flavorful options, starting one day as a traditional, but not-boring potato cheddar soup, transitioning the next day into a mildly spicy, green curry potato soup. Their sandwiches are some of the best in Columbia, and their banh mi is no exception. Uprise takes strong, piquant pulled pork and kimchi and contrasts it with cool mint, cilantro and cucumber. On top of their house-made bread, it is a memorable sandwich experience to shield you from deceptive ice and unforgiving wind.
800 E. Broadway
Executive chef Mike Odette’s restaurant Sycamore has gained national fame for its frequently rotating menu and incredible wine selections. Its winter menu represents modern takes on classical dishes, using thick sauces and slow-cooked meats to create a rich dining experience. Sycamore’s braised short ribs are one of the most famous dishes in Columbia, a meal simultaneously delicate from the slow-cooked meat’s texture and deeply satisfying due to its braise. Sycamore is certainly not a restaurant a typical college student would frequent, but at least one meal at Sycamore seems like a rite of passage for any Columbia resident.