Brock’s: elegant, comfy Southern dining [classic article]

You might think you know Southern food, but you might have only tried one or two kinds of the cuisine. You may have had soul food or gourmet low country dishes in Baltimore area restaurants, but there’s so much more, made with ingredients we can’t find in Maryland.

In just a short 2 hour direct flight from Baltimore to Birmingham, you can experience new Southern flavors at Brock’s. Brock’s is located in the relaxed elegant environment of the Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa. It’s hard to get more relaxing than that! I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it.

People are at ease; they’re able to drop their workaday cares and sample some of the best Alabama foodstuffs available. Dress is dressy casual or date night dressy.

The Renaissance Ross Bridge signature cocktail is the Golf Tea, made with freshly brewed sweet tea, Bulleit bourbon, peach schnapps and fresh mint. It’s nothing like a Long Island iced tea, which is . . well, disgusting. The Golf Tea is a real cocktail, expertly composed and deceptively smooth. It’s got a naturally sweet and refreshing flavor.

There are all kinds of ways to order dinner at Brock’s, including antipasti plates that you can choose with a number of courses, flatbreads, tapas and a more traditional multi-course dinner.

The duck confit salad has crispy sweet potato, goat cheese and orange vinaigrette. It’s innovative with the Southern touch of sweet potato. It was also a study in texture contrasts, with tender, juicy duck drizzled with rich olive oil and the crunch of crispy julienned sweet potato, interspersed with creamy goat cheese.

All of Brock’s pasta dishes are created with pasta made in-house. You can order them as a full entree or as a smaller portion. I tried the fettucini carbonara. It was excellent! The sauce was rich, yet delicate. Crispy prosciutto filled the role of bacon in the dish and there was also roasted garlic for more flavor and an original twist on the classic dish. The pasta itself was delicate and light.

The restaurant’s meats are supplied by the famous, sustainable practices Niman Ranch. I ordered the Niman Ranch beef tenderloin with duck fat potatoes, zucchini sformato and lemon coriander oil. The beef was amazingly tender, with delicate seasoning; it lets beef flavor show through. A sformato preparation is like a frittata, so laid on the steak, it’s a gourmet steak and eggs! Something a little fun and different. The duck fat eggs are diced and fried, breakfast potatos-style.

With a substantial dinner, I didn’t know what to order for dessert. I wanted to try something different, but light and pleasing on the palette. Sometimes, chocolate desserts can be a little de trop, but I’m glad I followed my server’s suggestion of Chocolate Elevation. It’s a plate with delectible bites of chocolate torte, chocolate caramel mousse and chocolate gelato. It’s a multi-temperature dessert, which is quite artistic. The torte was a hot little molten souffle’ with a rich, dark chocolate filling. It’s full of cocoa flavor. The chocolate caramel mousse had crunchy nuts and buttery caramel. It had a chocolate box candy quality. The gelato’s frozenness offed a distinct contrast. The portions were perfect to end an elegant meal.

Man and woman cannot live by dinner alone, when breakfast is called the “most important meal of the day”. They serve a breakfast buffet with a wide variety of items, including perfect, gorgeous berries, oatmeal with a full array of fixins’ — including candied nuts, almonds, huge pecans and walnuts. There’s also Conecuh Sausage from Evergreen, Alabama, doing business since 1947 and Alabama-style country ham — which is thick and richly marbled, rather than thin and smoky — and Oakview Farms organic stone ground grits, made in Elmore County, Alabama. If the only grits you’ve ever had were those in a pack with a Quaker guy on the label, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. These have a good, toothsome texture and an appreciable corn flavor. The meal is opened with kind of an amuse bouche of a freshly prepared exotic juice.

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