David Bancroft, owner and Executive Chef of ACRE in Auburn, Alabama, brings a family background of farming along with a fierce love of [easyazon_link identifier=”B01JT8UX2I” locale=”US” tag=”theyum-20″]Auburn University[/easyazon_link] to the forefront in his thriving acre near the center of town. Auburn faithful can find it easily when they swarm the campus before and after home football games in the fall, but even visitors supporting rival teams will enjoy a meal prepared in this creative and fresh setting.
Location: 110 East Glenn Avenue, only a short three-block walk from iconic Toomer’s Corner, site of victory celebrations for Auburn fans.
Menu: When you park your car, fruit trees will be the first plants to greet you, laden with ripe fruit if you’re lucky enough to visit during the picking season. Patches of herbs, berries, and vegetables line the sidewalk leading toward the front door. It is easy to imagine the kitchen staff coming out to pick what they need and take it straight inside to become that day’s lunch or dinner. These gardens are a partnership effort with the Auburn University School of Agriculture.
The ingredients that aren’t grown on-site are sourced from farmers in the Black Belt Region. Meats come from the Auburn University Meat Lab and local ranchers. Seafood is the freshest available with much of it delivered straight from the [easyazon_link identifier=”1631213997″ locale=”US” tag=”theyum-20″]Gulf Coast[/easyazon_link], which is only a few hours from Auburn. The menu changes often to reflect the seasons.
A popular appetizer is the Lee County Sampler — definitely enough to be shared by two or more. On a recent visit, it consisted of brussels sprouts and pecans, sliced tomatoes, butterbean salad, fried yellow squash, bread and butter pickles (house-made, of course) and sweet corn donuts. The veggies were great, but those sweet corn donuts took it over the top. So light, almost cake-like.
A recent addition is the Solid Oak Sampler with charcuterie, cheese and “all the fixins” served family style.
The [easyazon_link identifier=”B004UNUK0I” locale=”US” tag=”theyum-20″]Fried Green Tomatoes[/easyazon_link] are topped with Gulf crabmeat, creole remoulade, and pimento cheese. Portions are generous, and the crab and pimento cheese are delightful taste accompaniments to the tomatoes.
The Fried Gulf Oysters are prepared in a unique way with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and boiled peanut romesco and served in a bowl — much different from the normal “fried with fries” platters popular in the area.
The dessert menu listed sweet corn cobbler, berry compote, and blueberry/white chocolate bread pudding. You might also spot roasted strawberries or peanut butter pie. A scoop of fresh-churned, salted butter ice cream was a light option for ending a great meal. The layers of flavor were noticeable. First the hint of caramel, followed by the butter, then came the salt. Each bite deserved to be experienced slowly, so it was a good thing the bowl was frosted and made of cast iron.
Thoughts: Bancroft very deliberately chose to establish his restaurant in Auburn because there are 15 Auburn graduates in his family, and he says simply, “I wanted to give back.” ACRE opened September 1, 2013, and has been a huge hit. Travel and Leisure selected it as the top farm-to-table restaurant in Alabama. ACRE is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday and for dinner Monday through Saturday.
Price range: Appetizers range from $4 to $25, salads from $7 to $13, lunch entrees from $8 to $13 and dinner entrees from $23 to $32.
Author bio: Connie Pearson is a native Alabamian but spent four years living in Ecuador as a missionary. Her book about that time is called [easyazon_link identifier=”1540889173″ locale=”US” tag=”theyum-20″]Telling It On the Mountain: 52 Days in the Life of an Improbable Missionary[/easyazon_link]. She and her husband have 3 married children, 12 grandchildren and have traveled extensively within the USA and to the countries of Brazil, Guatemala, South Korea, Kenya, Venezuela, and Italy. She has degrees in piano performance and music education but is currently enjoying this stage of her life as a travel writer and blogger. Her blog is There Goes Connie, and you can follow her on social media on Twitter at @ThereGoesConnie and on Instagram at @connie.pearson.
Connie is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), The International Travel Writers Alliance (ITWA), and International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA). She is also an E.A.T. Certified Food Judge for the World Food Championships.
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