Photography by John Antaki
Salad is so much more than a feeble mixture of iceberg lettuce with tomatoes and dressing. Rather, salad is one of the most versatile dishes, whether you consider yourself a carnivore or a vegan. There are so many options for toppings, dressings, and proteins, with an endless variety of flavor combinations that can be created.
Augusta’s newest and healthiest option, The Southern Salad, checks all the boxes for flavorful, creative, and satisfying bowls. If you think that one of the signature salads isn’t going to be filling enough, “Craft Your Own” salad and top it with roasted chicken, pulled pork, or tri tip beef. Or try a signature grain bowl loaded with complex carbs, hearty veggies or legumes, and flavorful dressings. Just feeling a snack? Fuel up with hummus and pita chips or a vegan chocolate power ball. Get though the afternoon with a Creamsicle smoothie or Drop the Beet toast.
One of my favorite things about The Southern Salad is its insistence on sourcing local and supporting other small businesses in the process. All of the salad greens available are grown in their own hydroponic greenhouse with the help of The Hancock Farm in Bartow, Ga., from whom they also get a lot of the rest of their produce. Each of their 11 dressings is made small-batch and in-house and can be purchased if you want some extra to take home. Top your dinner salad with vidalia onion honey mustard, sweet tea + basil vinaigrette, or vegan Caesar. Marinate your main dish in one or their lemon + thyme, citrus + mint, or chipotle vinaigrettes. Even their greens can be purchased to take home.
The Southern Salad aims to be more than just a healthy, quick-service lunch option though. They’re open through the evening and offer wine, beer, and a back patio perfectly suited for a relaxing evening with friends. Catering is available for size event and online ordering with quick pick-up means you don’t have to stand in line on a short lunch break. Located in the heart of downtown Augusta on Broad Street, next to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the restaurant is easily accessible with a parking lot in the back. As a result, The Southern Salad has quickly become a local staple as they’ve helped fill a void for a versatile, easy, fast, and healthy alternative in the center of the CSRA.
I’ve never felt more at home sitting at a bar as I do with a pint of Uncle Festbier in hand, my elbows resting on a piece of 200-year-old pine, listening to Mike Ellison, Adam Fulmer, and Brian Ertter — a few of the guys behind Savannah River Brewing — talking about what they’re most passionate about: beer and family. Or should I say family and beer. Because they make it clear that family comes first, whether related by blood or not.
They’ve supported each other through this whole process, from home-brewers with a vision, to purchasing their warehouse on the edge of downtown Augusta, to producing a quality beer of which they can be proud.
After more than a year of planning, purchasing space and the necessary equipment, and gathering a team of knowledgeable family and friends, each with their own forte, Savannah River Brewing opened its doors in February 2017. Head brewer Adam was brought on shortly after and the company has continued to produce quality beers year round with creative seasonal brews rotating.
The Uncle Festbier specifically was inspired by the beers of Oktoberfest, similar to what would come out of Munich, Germany this time of year. Traditionally dry-hopped, this beer is lighter in color though it is unfiltered, giving it a slightly richer flavor with a little more body. It’s smooth and easy to drink and I can’t decide whether to stick with this beer or try their Wired Blonde – another seasonal beer. They tell me there’s a Wired Dynamite Brown Ale coming out in November and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to come back to try it too. Both are made with beans that are expertly roasted by our very own Buona Caffé.
Not all of their seasonal beers are available on shelves but they can be found at Savannah River Brewing’s home base on 5th Street as well as at Füse, Finch & Fiffth, World of Beer, Tip Top Taps, and most other bars in the area tapping craft beer. Their year-round Dynamite Brown Ale is my personal favorite, but I’ll definitely be back regularly to try some of their new and returning seasonal brews and to sit at that bar that feels like home.
What began as a retirement hobby has turned into a full-fledged business for the Augusta Honey Company. A couple of backyard hives has evolved over the last few years to include honey, candles, lotion, lip balm, and more and has expanded to include as many hives as they can accommodate. A yard full of bees might intimidate some but for Lisa and Michael Hogue, it’s become a part of their everyday life. I’m outfitted in full gear, gloves, traditional netted hat, coveralls, and all as Lisa holds a frame, covered in bees, bare-handed, in jeans and a T-shirt. She’s been stung a few times she tells me, but it doesn’t hurt like it used to. Plus, she assures me, they die if they have to use their stingers so they don’t really want to sting you unless they truly feel threatened.
The female bees, the ones we see floating around our flower gardens during the warmer months, can travel several miles and collect pollen to bring back to the hive, where it’s converted into food for the bees in the form of honey. The males guard the hive and mate with the queen, who’s sole job is essentially to lay eggs to build and sustain the hive’s population. Besides producing honey — a natural sweetener and considered to have many health benefits — honey bees are particularly vital to the pollination process of essentially all of the vegetables and fruits we eat. Without them, agricultural systems around the world would be in real danger and with bee populations declining at a confusing and alarming rate, small businesses like the Augusta Honey Company become even more important to our local economies.
Most honey companies produce honey and beeswax only, using a manual machine called an extractor to pull the honey out of the comb. But the AHC has taken it a step further and has created a line of both traditional and unique products. Though they do sell both their raw honey and beeswax individually, they also offer Beard Balm, Cinnamon Creamed Honey, Honey Pots made from pure beeswax, Beeswraps Wax Cloths that are a sustainable version of cling wrap, and wood butter. I particularly love the Lotion Pearls, made from all-natural products and the best moisturizer I’ve ever used. Their honey and other products can be found both online and on the shelves of other local businesses like Hildebrandt’s, Buona Caffé, Enterprise Mill, the Peaceful Warrior Apothecary, and the Augusta Visitor Center Gift Shop.
Article appears in the October 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.