By walking a short block from Main Street in Waynesville, North Carolina, you’ll find a premiere farm-to-fork restaurant that claims to have “innovative Southern food with a local backbone and homegrown libations.” It’s a catchy slogan with the menu and credentials to back it up. Frogs Leap Public House is an appropriate name for this very uncommon spot for dinner or weekend brunch.
Location: 44 Church Street, Waynesville, North Carolina.
Menu: At the chef’s discretion, the menu at Frogs Leap Public House (FLPH) changes often. The board listing local farms and partners provides a glimpse of what is to come for all the diners to see and anticipate. Most of the 14 farms and suppliers are either in Waynesville or within a 50-mile radius. Greens, herbs, vegetables, potatoes, goat cheese, fresh bread, pork, beef, trout, elk, and bison are sourced very near FLPH. Even the sodas and coffee come from Waynesville suppliers.
The dinner menu describes imaginative soups, flatbreads, salads, cheeses, snacks, small plates and larger plates they refer to as “suppers.” What could be better than starting a meal with Ten Acre Garden Butternut & Candy Roaster Bisque with Roasted Pepitas and Pumpkin Spice Crema, then continuing to Pistachio-Fried Goat Cheese and ending with Wood-Grilled Blackened Sunburst Trout served with Warm Lady Peas, Local Kales & Fava Salad with Hot Bacon Vinaigrette and Chow Chow? The array of flavors and preparations is astonishing. And how about Butternut Ginger Snap Cheesecake for dessert? Every item is imaginatively prepared, and the listings have you planning a return trip to try more dishes.
Thoughts: Frogs Leap Public House matches the vibe of the town and its Smoky Mountain surroundings. Nearby Main Street is lined with shops displaying the work of skilled artisans, and a slate of local musicians are often on hand to entertain. It fits to have a restaurant with a chef who uses meat, produce, bakery and cheese products from people who understand the land, the climate and the taste palates of the people and then combines them in special and unexpected ways. That chef is Kaighn Raymond. He and his wife Toni are the owners of this restaurant housed in a building first constructed in 1918 to be the first Buick dealership in the southeast. The exposed brick walls and painted tin ceiling hint of the building’s almost century-old beginnings.
An enticing smell meets you at the door. It emanates from the authentic wood-burning pizza oven, a slow smoker and an Argentine wood grill giving the whole place the feeling of being in a log cabin cooking over an open fire.
FLPH is a business dedicated to being environmentally responsible. Menus are printed on recycled paper. Cooking oil is converted into biofuel. They don’t have a dumpster but instead compost almost everything.
The wine and craft beer list is extensive, and the “home grown libations” mentioned earlier feature cocktails made with house-made syrups, garnishes and infusions.
Diners looking for onion rings, hushpuppies or fried pickles will find those items cranked up a notch into whiskey-battered onion rings, fried pickles with a cucumber-buttermilk dip and hushpuppies that are grilled and served with pepper jelly. Literally every menu item is made unique.
Price range: Soups are $7.50. Salads are $8-10. Flatbreads are $14 and $16. Local cheeses are $4.50 for 1, $8.50 for 2 or $4 each for 3 or more. Snacks and small plates range from $7-12.00, and suppers are $21-39.
Brunch and lunch are offered seasonally, so be sure to call or check the menu if you visit for a meal other than dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are highly encouraged, especially on weekend nights.
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Connie's book "Telling It On The Mountain: 52 Days in the Life of an Unlikely Missionary" was published in 2016 and is available on Amazon.In addition to her blog, www.theregoesconnie.com, she is a regular contributor to The Yums,Trip101.com, MilesGeek.com, Epicurean-Traveler.com, ShortWeeks-LongWeekends.com and other print and online travel publications.