When Greg McPhee’s The Anchorage opens its doors many moons from now in the Village, diners will discover that the one-time Restaurant 17 chef will have an unlikely star front and center at his restaurant: vegetables.
Mind you, The Anchorage isn’t going to be vegetarian restaurant — far from it. It’s just that McPhee, like many others, has grown tired of the lard- and pork-dominated Pan-Southern trend that has swept the nation since Charleston chef Sean Brock launched Husk Restaurant in 2011 with McPhee by his side as his sous.
Much like the Pan-Southern acolytes, McPhee will be drawing from history, albeit in a slightly different manner. “There’s my grandmother’s food, but what you should really be focusing on is your grandmother’s grandmother food before you had the readily available tubs of lard and Crisco and all of these things,” he said. “Back when people couldn’t afford to eat meat, they certainly were a whole lot healthier because they were forced to make vegetables the center of the plate. In Greenville, we have a really great farming community that can support that.”
And when it comes to vegetables, none are nearer and dearer to McPhee’s heart than broccoli rabe. “Grilled broccoli rabe and heirloom tomatoes and a little bit of sea salt is my favorite, which is good because we can actually grow it down here,” he said.
McPhee also believes that one of the benefits to cooking in Greenville is the variety of different diners from outside the U.S. “You don’t see it in the food scene, but when you break out the demographics, we’ve got a lot of people from a lot of different parts of the world. So I think we’ll be able to go and use shoyu [soy sauce] or Chinese cooking wines and Italian ingredients, and we can procure a lot of those locally.”
Of course, McPhee digs the pig just as much as the next guy. “Pork is really integral in just about any culture’s cuisine just because it’s so versatile, so we’re definitely going to have pork options.”
In addition to seasonal veggies and our delicious four-legged friends, McPhee isn’t afraid to get wet. The Anchorage will feature some seafood — courtesy of the Lowcountry’s much-heralded Abundant Seafood — and freshwater fish. Currently, he’s eyeing Picken’s High Valley Farms for trout, white bass out of Walhalla, and possibly even some caviar courtesy of an N.C. State University sturgeon farm outside of Boone.