The mission to explore takeout dining during Utah’s COVID-19 restaurant closures continues. This week, we traveled up to Tupelo restaurant on Park City’s Main Street. After being cooped up mostly in the house for months, it was really nice to enjoy the scenic drive to Park City. According to owners Matt Harris and Maggie Alvarez, Tupelo will reopen on June 4th for safe, social-distancing in-house dining – Thursday through Saturday for dinner and brunch on Sunday. But they will also continue to offer their Supper Club curbside takeout service and delivery, which I have to say is pretty awesome.
Our takeout experience with Tupelo was flawless. We ordered a curbside “supper” on the Tupelo website and when we arrived at Tupelo it was waiting and ready to go. A fellow named Dustin – wearing gloves and a mask – brought us our Sunday supper just seconds after we pulled up in front of the restaurant. Easy peasy. Curbside pickup or delivery of Supper Club meals at Tupelo is available Friday, Saturday and Sunday and orders must be placed by 2 p.m. the Thursday before pickup.
If there is an upside to the current pandemic, it’s that some restaurants – like Tupelo – are serving food for takeout that might not be available on their regular in-house dining menu. You know, food that travels well like fried chicken. Chef/Partner Matt Harris hails originally from Georgia and this Southern boy knows a thing or two about frying chicken. So it was a real treat to be able to enjoy a comfort food meal of fried chicken and fixins from Tupelo.
The dinner that we ordered – a classic Southern “Meat & 3” – was a helluva bang for the buck. $70 got us an entire fried chicken (8 pieces), plus buttermilk biscuits, salad, three side dishes, homemade gravy and dessert. The meal is intended to serve two people, but this one could have easily been shared by three or four hungry humans. The portions are generous, to say the least.
Meals can be ordered a la carte from Tupelo, or as the aforementioned Supper Club Combo. The menu varies some from week to week but there’s usually the fried chicken supper with sides, etc. and a St. Louis-style Ribs Supper Combo, as well.
Chef Harris allows his all-natural chicken to bathe in a dill pickle brine for 24 hours before frying it. The extraordinary result is chicken pieces that are tender, juicy and richly flavored inside while remaining crisp and crunchy outside. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever tasted better fried chicken. But before jumping into the chicken, my wife and I shared a sensational salad of fresh mixed greens, shredded carrots, thin-sliced radishes and heirloom tomatoes. Chef Harris sources seed-grown pesticide-free produce from the Tupelo Farm in Midway. Our only disappointment was that there wasn’t quite enough of the luscious vinaigrette for the large-size salad.
As you already know if you’ve ever been to Tupelo, the kitchen is known for their bodacious buttermilk biscuits. Our Supper came with six or eight of those babies, along with fresh high-quality butter on the side.
A serving of simple macaroni and cheese – nothing so fancy that kids wouldn’t enjoy it – was the ultimate comfort side dish; oh-so creamy and satisfying. One thing we love about Tupelo’s takeout meals is that all of the containers are compostable. I’m sure this is an added expense for the folks at Tupelo – Styrofoam would be cheaper – but it’s the right thing to do, so kudos to them.
At about this point in the meal – as we dug into a delicious twice-baked sweet potato with candied bacon – it occurred to me that maybe I should have ordered … you know … a veggie or two. The Brussels sprouts perhaps. Or maybe peas and carrots. Oh well, I guess I confess to being a carb lover. But wait! I just remembered that I did eat a veggie. Sitting alongside the fried chicken were pickle slices that blew my mind. I love pickles, but these – I’m guessing they’re made in-house at Tupelo – were sensational. They were super crunchy and super spicy pickles slices that I just couldn’t get enough of. I loved the heat of those perfect pickles.
Well, there was one more carb to come. Southerners are known for their grits and Tupelo’s are second to none. These were creamy, scrumptious smoked cheddar hominy grits that I could probably have made a whole meal of.
For me, dessert was a delightful surprise. You see, my favorite candy is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I’m of the opinion that there is no better flavor combination than the salty sensation of chocolate and peanut butter. So, you can imagine how my eyes lit up when I opened the dessert to-go box and discovered that in it was a pair of double chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and chopped nuts! Bonus: since my wife is gluten-free, I got BOTH of those killer cupcakes all to myself.
As I mentioned, Tupelo will be opening next week for in-house dining. And, I’ll certainly look forward to once again enjoying Matt Harris’ cooking straight from the kitchen to the table. Having said that, Tupelo’s Supper Club meals are pretty damned hard to top. Enjoy them while you still can.
Culinary quote of the week:
“The food in Europe is pretty disappointing. I like fried chicken.” — Donnie Wahlberg
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.