Ol’ Tom’s Pub: Dining at Pursell Farms, Sylacauga, Alabama

Ol’ Tom’s Pub inside The Inn at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Alabama, is a delightful gastronomic treat in a peaceful, bucolic setting. The Pub and its companion restaurant, Arrington, combine to meet all of the needs of guests at this exceptional retreat.

Location: 386 Talledega Spring Road, Sylacauga, Alabama

Menu: The menu offerings at Ol’ Tom’s Pub go far beyond typical pub fare. A tomato bisque soup or shaved beets can be combined with a chopped or wedge salad topped with chicken, shrimp, grilled beef or fried oysters.

Pizza choices go from the expected meat lovers and margherita style to such unusual toppings as duck confit, loaded potato and shrimp and grits.

Burgers adorned with the South’s Wickles Pickles are listed alongside Fried Green Tomato Sliders with pimento cheese and Corndogs with chow chow and house mustard. The club sandwich is piled high with slices of smoked turkey, bacon and tomatoes.

The chicken and waffle is served inside a waffle cone with sprinkles of collard greens and toasted pecans. The chicken pieces are savory and abundant.

Other lighter fare options include stuffed Medjool dates, Southern Poutine, Scotch eggs and maple sugar bacon, but hearty meals can also be ordered. A tender steak from nearby Allen Brothers farm, a thick pork chop or a balsamic-roasted chicken are each served with a salad and vegetable.

Thoughts: When Executive Chef Andrea Griffith was approached about coming to Alabama, she was reluctant to leave her familiar Philadelphia surroundings and comfort level until she visited the Pursell Farms property in southeast Alabama. She worked previously at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and managed the Primland Resort in Dan, Virginia but feels that the Pursell Farms property, the friendly staff and the crafty menu choices set this resort and restaurant apart, especially for this part of the country. She also feels that the Pursell family has created an unbelievable vibe, and, after being there for six and a half year, she has no plans to leave.

Chef Andrea utilizes herbs, honey, berries and figs grown right on the farm, and a large number of local vendors are her sources for eggs, beef, pork, produce, mushrooms, greens, jams, jellies and other jar items. Her desire is for guests to come in regularly and find something new and enticing on the menu with every visit. She has the freedom to change the menu to reflect the seasons and the freshest available ingredients. She provides cranberry shortbread cookies and peanut butter protein balls for guests at The Inn, and you will wish for a sneak peak at her recipe. They are so good.

Somewhat surprisingly, two of Chef Andrea’s favorite items on the Pub menu are the corndog and the wedge salad. However, when she finishes adding her special touches, those choices are elevated from mundane to delightful. My husband and I tried the club sandwich and the chicken and waffle. Both were mouthwatering, but I already have my eye on other dishes for a return visit.

Decor at Ol’ Tom’s Pub features dark wood and a Scottish plaid carpet, hinting at the Pub’s namesake, Thomas Morris, who lived in the 1800’s and was strongly associated with golf in St. Andrews, Scotland. A must-see item showcased in the dining room is the pool table that formerly belonged to Jim Nabors, who played the character of Gomer Pyle on American television sitcoms. Nabors and Pursell Farms’ owner Jimmy Pursell were close friends for many years.

Price range: Soups and salads are $6-10. Pizzas are $10-12. Sandwiches are burgers are $10-12. Snack choices range from $6-22, and full entrees are $21-26.

Connie Pearson

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