Florence, Alabama –
Last month we decided to join the Florence Foodie Events tour presented by Florence Main Street and which is an eight month food series highlighting the very best social dining in historic downtown Florence. We had previously heard about it and just didn’t connect that it would be such a fun outing.
Our first Florence Foodie Event was at The Rivertown Coffee Company for their evening in the spotlight. As two of the lucky 25 ticket-holders, we arrived with great anticipation and trepidation of what would be served at the dinner. Having been in the Rivertown Coffee Company numerous times over the years, we had a preconceived notion that there was no way that a four course meal could be served by an establishment that was known for coffee and pastries. Well, let me be the first to break the news to you, they surprised everyone and outdid themselves with the four course dinner meal.
John Cartwright, owner, chief cook and bottle washer at the Rivertown Coffee Company, prepared an outstanding meal that consisted of a salad, soup, entrée and dessert. The first plate to arrive at the table was a pear, bacon, and goat cheese fritter salad. Now, being an old country boy I wasn’t too sure about what I was about to partake of, but I said what the heck and dug in. The taste and textures of the salad were delightful and the goat cheese fritter was without a doubt the best goat cheese I’ve ever eaten. So, plate one was a success and then it was on to the soup course, which was Butternut Squash and Jalapeno Bisque Soup with Crawfish. Again, if it was on a menu of a regular restaurant, I would have ordered something else, but without thought or hesitation I dug right in to give it a taste and couldn’t stop eating it. The butternut squash provided a smooth mellow taste and with a shot of the jalapeno pepper it perked up the mellow taste to a new height. Then, the crawfish, with its own taste profile come shining through at the end. The three completely different flavors combined into a combo of sheer goodness.
The entrée was Braised Chicken and Sweet Potato Enchilada with guacamole slaw. Try saying that three times really quick. Now I’ll admit up front I’m no fan of guacamole but this was in a slaw mixture that looked very appetizing on the plate. I tried my first bite of the enchilada with a mixture of the three flavors and again knew that John had hit his third home-run of the night. To say that the entrée was a gastronomical delight is an understatement because if I hadn’t been in polite company I would have contemplated licking the plate.
And, just when we didn’t think it could get any better, they brought out the dessert cups which were Shirey Affogato (Italian for “drowned”), which in Southern speak is a scoop of homemade Shirey vanilla ice cream with a shot of hot espresso over it. My wife doesn’t like coffee and she cleaned the cup. Again, a round tripper.
Throughout the evening, John came out and discussed the dishes we were enjoying and relating how he created them and their backgrounds. He readily admitted he was not a formally trained chef but loved to be creative in the kitchen and experiment with different flavor combinations. Everyone at the dinner felt that he should continue to experiment and add some of the combinations to his regular menu. And, since then he has added a couple of the items to his evening menu and will continue to offer specialty items from time to time.
The Florence Foodie Event at Rivertown Coffee Company was so popular and sold out so quickly, that a second Florence Foodie Event at Rivertown Coffee Company was organized and it also was a sold out event. If your interested in joining in on the Florence Foodie Event tour, then head on over to Florence Main Street Facebook page and check them out.
Based on my scoring criteria I would give John and his staff at the Rivertown Coffee Company Nine’s across the board which is exceptional.