Jeffrey’s Restaurant serves up a mix of all things Southern
by Staff Writer
by Molly Reitter
The braised pork bellies starter sits like a work of art on the plate.
They are piled like a mini Jenga set, sitting in orange marmalade puree and barbecue glaze, topped with julienne organic greens.
The crispy goat cheese salad looks like a field of wildflowers. The arugula greens are topped with pickled red onions, granny smith apples and sweet and sour cucumbers with the encrusted goat cheese disks, adding the natural woods to the field.
Presentation is clearly important at Jeffrey’s Restaurant.
Executive chef David Thomas believes that fresh, local produce and ingredients, a light hand in the kitchen and a gorgeous display on the plate allows the food to speak for itself.
Thomas always enjoyed cooking as a child, constantly playing with his mom’s pots and pans.
He never lost that early love of food and ended up graduating from Piedmont Community College’s Culinary Arts program.
Thomas then spent 12 years working with NASCAR racing families. Six of those years he worked as the personal chef for the Earnhardt family as well as the executive chef at Dale Earnhardt Inc., which feeds the racing team.
Then Thomas became the executive chef at Childress Vineyards in Lexington, where he created menus to be paired with wines, taught cooking classes and made appearances on radio and television.
He began working at Jeffrey’s Restaurant three months ago and is in the process of bringing more of his trademark edgy Southern-inspired fare to the menu.
When asked what his favorite thing on the menu is, Thomas asks “right now?” This is testament to the ever-changing nature of the restaurant using the freshest ingredients possible. But right now, Thomas’ favorite thing on the menu is the Blackened Chicken Pasta. It packs just enough spice to remind him of his Southern roots.
“You can’t go anywhere else to get a Southern meal like this one,” Thomas said. “But we still have chops, seafood, collard greens, all done with a Southern spice.”
Even the look of the restaurant mixes the best of the old and new South with gorgeous, brocaded curtains hanging from floor to ceiling windows and a modern, exposed, black ceiling.
The menu changes with the seasons at Jeffrey’s Restaurant, based on what fresh produce is available at that time of the year.
Thomas likes the change, giving him a chance to create and explore in the kitchen.
He brings out a new dish that will go on the updated fall menu. It is cheese bread topped with a huge, fried green heirloom tomato and finished with lobster salad.
This is one of Sharon Smith’s favorite appetizers. Smith, who lives in Mooresville and regularly eats at Jeffrey’s, can’t say enough about the restaurant.
“We recently went for our anniversary,” Smith said. “My husband and I had the North Carolina Tile fish with risotto and vegetable of the day and it knocked our socks off!”
Thomas is very happy in his new job. “The people and personnel are great to work with,” he said. “Especially the management team.”
And the restaurant’s namesake?
“Oh Jeffrey Lancaster is just wonderful!” Thomas enthuses. The last name might sound familiar; he also owns the Lancaster’s Bar-B-Que restaurants. Lancaster started Jeffrey’s Restaurant in 2005 so Mooresville residents could experience fine yet casual dining without having to travel to Huntersville. The plan succeeded with a restaurant that is a mix of all the best things Southern.