Fredericksburg winery Southold Farm + Cellar expanded with a new restaurant on its Hill Country grounds this past winter. The Kitchen at Southold F+C opened on February 26 at 330 Minor Threat Lane for reservations-only dine-in service.
Co-owners Regan and Carey Meador had been wanting to open a full-service restaurant because, for them, wine and food are meant to be enjoyed together. “We are big believers in the fact that wine is food and it’s all about completing the table,” says Regan. The typical tasting room experience, which tends to focus on wine pours, tends to separate the wine from the entire experience of dining and drinking. “The way that we do tasting rooms in this country is very much clinical and almost over-evaluatory,” he explains.
Overseeing the kitchen is chef Leenie Boyle, who had previously worked as the assistant general manager of all-day Austin restaurant Better Half. She met the Meadors two years ago during a Southold release event held at the Walsh Street restaurant. “When all of the world collapsed there for a minute, that’s a great time to pivot into something new and make the best of the moment,” she says. Boyle joined Southold in October 2020.
Boyle describes the New American menu as “unpretentious farm-to-table” fare, keeping it simple and locally focused. “It’s really just whatever we want to cook,” she says. “There is cohesion in the simplicity.”
There’s the bacon steak, consisting of two pieces of pork cooked in a gojuchang reduction sauce with pickled peppers and herbs, “one of my favorites,” Boyle says. There’s also the mussels dish, where the shellfish comes in a Thai coconut broth, served alongside bread from a Fredericksburg bakery. The single dessert offering is milk with three cookies. The flavors rotate, based on what the kitchen wants to make, as well as whatever the Meadors’ daughter requests.
Drinks-wise, there are Southold wines, naturally, as well as the winery’s first foray into beer. “It’s acknowledging that sometimes, not everybody wants to drink wine,” says Meador, “and that’s okay.”
For the beer, they teamed up with brewer Garrett Crowel, who runs Yokefellow Brewery. (He is the husband of Lightsome Wines winemaker Adrienne Ballou, who also works at Southold.) The beers — called Light and Dark — are only available in the restaurant space. “I’m not getting into the beer business,” Meador clarifies.
The physical Kitchen at Southold F+C space, found next to the original tasting room, was built from the ground up. One side features big windows overlooking the Hill Country expanse. Its COVID-19 safety measures remain the same as the tasting room: masks are required for guests and servers, they’re seating guests outside as much as possible, but will seat inside with the doors open.
The Meadors live in the area, and because two big restaurants closed in the nearby town of Stonewall, this meant that there wasn’t really a place for dinner in the 20-mile area, With the Kitchen at Southold now open, there’s an option for people seeking meals. “We’re very cognizant of where we exist in this area,” Carey says, “and want to make something that everyone can come and enjoy.”
The winery’s wine bar in Johnson City, the Parlour, remains open for dine-in service. Southold had operated an on-site food truck at the winery during the pandemic, which has since closed. Meador says they’re thinking about either using it for something else or selling it.
The restaurant was supposed to open for a friends-and-family preview in mid-February, but that was delayed due to the winter storm. Meador shares that there was damage — the winery was without power for two weeks, PVC pipes burst, hot water heaters broke, there were dead trees — but shares that “it’s not a very uncommon experience. I know a lot of people had it even worse than we did.”
The Kitchen at Southold F+C’s is open for on-site reservations only from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday through reservations only, with Sunday hours to come.
Note: Currently, the Kitchen at Southold F+C is only open for dine-in service, and there are still safety concerns surrounding indoor dining in Austin. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the City of Austin website. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.