I have long been a fan of Chef Luke Hawke, so I was excited to learn of his teaming up with Chef Marc Taft in their new endeavor that is Co-Op Community Table + Bar located inside the Downtown Embassy Suites.
The phrase “farm to table” gets thrown around too liberally for me these days, but these guys deliver on that ever-popular phrase. Many of the ingredients are from local favorites such as Sweet City Microgreens, Bill’s Honey Farm, fruits, vegetables, and herbs from Madison County Farmer’s Market, cheeses from Belle Chevre, and chicken from Springer Mountain Farms. The seasonal menu is creative, with a modern spin on southern ingredients.
The environment and décor is classy, but not stuffy. Perfect for date night or girls night out. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and so helpful in making recommendations. We were quite pleased with what was recommended, but also plenty pleased with the dishes we chose on our own. I honestly think we would have loved any choice that was made.
Everything was seasoned well, with a salt level just where I like it. We started with a few items from the Snacks + Share menu. Roasted Broccoli with manchego cheese, garlic, and a pimento aioli. Cooked until softened but still with a nice bite to it. The pimento aioli really made this dish. Summer Corn Soup with bacon, Parmesan, and chives. Comfort food at its finest, this soup was thick and creamy and full of flavor. Crispy Okra with Creole mustard. Halved okra pods, fried to a perfect crunch, with just a hint of spice. Fried Green Tomatoes with pimento cheese, tomato jam, and country ham. Crunchy, creamy, sweet, smoky, and salty, all in one plate of perfection.
While we could have stopped with our appetizers and been satisfied, we persevered and each ordered an entrée (because that’s what you do when in the face of amazing food). Wild-caught Halibut with clams, blistered tomatoes, and country ham on a fingerling potato hash. The halibut was seared beautifully and the subtle flavor of tarragon really brought the dish together. Sea Scallops with a sweet pea risotto, pea tendrils, lemon gremolata, and chive oil. Sweet, mild scallops brightened by the burst of lemon, and rounded out by the chive oil. I would order this again and again. Smoked Gouda Ravioli with corn, tomatoes, and okra. A common Southern vegetable combination elevated by the smoky, creamy gouda ravioli.
We couldn’t resist, pretended we weren’t full enough, and ended our meal with two desserts. Banana Pudding with Woodford whiskey-soaked Nilla wafers, Chantilly cream, and a broiled banana. I don’t know what to say about it except that it was pure banana bliss. Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a summer berry compote and mint. It was deliciously smooth with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of tanginess, made complete by the freshness of the berries and mint. Perfect ending to a perfect meal!
Heather Prestwood is a Cullman native, now-Decatur resident, with a love for Huntsville and Madison. Particularly the food. She is a home cook who loves to feed people, talk about food, try new foods, and tell folks all about it! You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her food posts on Facebook and Instagram by searching #HeatherEats.