Where food comes full circle

Published 2:58 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Columbus restaurant making farm-to-table dining affordable for families

If you ask a hundred restaurateurs what it ultimately takes to run a successful restaurant, you’ll get a hundred different variations of the same answer: “Great food, at the right price.”

It was this philosophy that Columbus’ Carl Pleasants and Tryon’s Adrienne Wilson embraced nearly one year ago, when the pair decided to make their own mark on the Foothills’ culinary scene.

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Since then, their business, The Rural Seed Restaurant, has sprouted into a local dining destination with a reputation for offering the farm-to-table dining experience at a price that families of all walks of life can afford — just as the owners envisioned.

With Adrienne’s husband, John, recently joining the team in the back of the house, the Columbus restaurant is continuing to grow, with the addition of an “After Dark” dinner menu, the opening of a second dining room and a new selection of beer and wine.

The business has also teamed up with local nonprofit Growing Rural Opportunities to host the Columbus Winter Farmers Market, offering local farmers — including several whose fresh meats and produce lines the kitchen’s pantry and fridge — a place to sell their products every Saturday through March.

The new partnership has allowed the restaurant to become a place where local food truly comes full circle, a place where customers can shake the hands of the very same growers whose labor is transformed by Adrienne and John into delicious dishes that run the gamut from garden salads and hearty soups to tacos, burgers, pasta and more.

The owners say that around 70 percent of the ingredients the kitchen uses are sourced from farms in Polk County and the surrounding region. The owners purchase ground beef, eggs and chorizo from Saluda’s Bradley Farms, greens from Saluda’s Bearded Bird Farm, and other local vendors.

By continuing to develop relationships between themselves, their growers and GRO, the owners are hopeful they can rely even more on locally sourced foods.

“The more we buy from them, the more that farmer is gonna grow,” John says.

The team behind The Rural Seed are familiar with both ends of the farm-to-table equation.

Carl has farmed on his family’s land in Lynn for the past several years, with John helping out every now and then.

The two, along with Adrienne, used to work together at Bright’s Creek Golf Club, with Carl working in the front of the house while John led the kitchen, and Adrienne served as pastry chef.

When Bright’s Creek closed in late 2017, John decided to return to his previous job as a chef at Mill Spring’s Tryon International Equestrian Center, while Carl and Adrienne decided to make their dream of offering affordable farm-to-table dining to their neighbors a reality.

Inside the building that once housed Winding Creek Brewing Co. in Columbus, The Rural Seed Restaurant took root, with the owners initially focusing on a simple yet tantalizing menu of breakfast and lunch dishes.

“We had an opportunity, but we didn’t have a lot of leeway or choices,” Carl says. “We wanted to make sure we could take care of breakfast, take care of lunch, because we know we could do it. We wanted to make sure we could build a business and do it correctly, and provide what we were promising before we got too big for our britches.”

For the morning hours, Adrienne and her team whip up a selection of waffles, pancakes, French toast and omelets, as well as breakfast classics like biscuits and gravy, eggs Florentine and more. For lunch, customers can enjoy a variety of different tacos, sandwiches, burgers and salads, served with french fries, soups and the kitchen’s house-made potato chips.

With John joining the team late last year, the kitchen was ready to apply its farm-to-table approach to dinner as well.

Building on the restaurant’s already popular assortment of burgers, tacos, salads and sandwiches, the evening menu also features a selection of quality steaks and chops, topped with the customer’s selection of béarnaise, demi-glace or the house steak sauce. Other entrée choices include a grass-fed beef short rib Bolognese sauce, tossed with pappardelle pasta; an all-natural chicken breast, stuffed with chorizo and fontina cheese; and the kitchen’s variation of the tried-and-true Southern staple, shrimp and grits.

Complementing the food is the restaurant’s new selection of beer and wine. Inside the recently opened second dining room is the establishment’s bar area, which has six brews on tap, while the wine cabinet is stocked with six varieties.

With The Rural Seed Restaurant rapidly approaching its second birthday, the owners say the journey thus far has been amazing, and that things are only going to get better for the unassuming grey building on the outskirts of town.

“I don’t think we ever wanted the polished, really nice, fancy brass place,” John says. “We wanted a place people had to discover. And that’s what [Adrienne] and Carl have done — create a place people can discover. And that’s really, really cool. To think you can come in and get a coconut-crusted mahimahi in a building like this, that’s what I always wanted.” •

Ted Yoakum is the managing editor of Life in our Foothills and the Tryon Daily Bulletin. He can be reached at 269-588-1040 or ted.yoakum@tryondailybulletin.com.