When I approached Alex George for a preview of his new restaurant Golden Brown & Delicious, I didn’t have high expectations. Though I’d had his doughnuts at the Village Grind and sampled his small plates at First Fridays, I knew very little about what GB&D planned to offer. All I had to go on was the vague outline of his concept: a breakfast-and-lunch spot in the Village of West Greenville.
Alex’s menu for the preview didn’t do much to spike my anticipation. There would be flatbread with assorted spreads, a salad, chicken and waffles, a burger, and a shrimp roll — things that are already offered across Greenville in dozens of incarnations.
But there’s only so much a menu can tell you.
I began paying attention when George brought out the flatbread with three spreads: baba ghanoush, a spicy tomato sauce and whipped goat cheese dressed with olive oil and honey. This was far more elaborate than the standard appetizer I envisioned. For instance, I thought the baba ghanoush served as an interesting substitute for hummus. Indeed, they’re quite similar in color and mildness of flavor, but the baba ghanoush is also earthier and fuller-bodied.
The tomato sauce also surprises with a sharp nip of heat on the back end. It resembles a punchy shakshuka rather than a run-of-the-mill tomato sauce. Meanwhile, the goat cheese delighted with an unexpected airiness, especially for something typically dense and rich. Even the flatbread itself circumvented expectations, resembling a Chinese pan-fried scallion pancake more than bread.
This parade of personality continued with the watermelon salad. Between the sweetness of the melon, the tanginess of the pickled onions and the salty crumbles of feta cheese, there was plenty of interest. Far from being boring rabbit food, this salad was playful and fresh.
The chicken and waffles also defied expectations with an impossibly thick and juicy fried chicken breast, a fried egg, bacon jam and maple hot sauce. Instead of a tug of war between sweet and savory, each bite was harmonious — somehow simultaneously sweet and savory. A teriyaki glaze was the first analogue I thought of.
On the other hand, the double-decker cheeseburger was a showcase for Alex’s house-made brioche. The bun — light and airy with just a hint of sweetness — provided a nice counterpoint to the hefty, meaty guts of the burger.
The shrimp roll, which also uses brioche as a vehicle, was the first letdown. Granted, it’s something Alex is still developing, but it’s the first thing in this preview that doesn’t make a well-defined statement. However, the shrimp is spot on. They’re firm, juicy and pop with each bite — the mouthfeel you’d expect from perfectly cooked shrimp. It’s just missing that last element that would make the roll truly memorable.
Granted, my meal at Golden Brown & Delicious was just a preview, but it’s already clear that there’s a playful undercurrent to their menu, one that is not afraid to toy with and upend standard formulas. Whether there’s unexpected dynamism in the flavors or unexpected references to other cuisines, Alex George doesn’t seem satisfied with churning out another salad, another burger or another incarnation of chicken and waffles. Though his starting points might be familiar, he certainly isn’t constrained by familiarity. And that is reason enough to look forward to this restaurant in the Village.
Golden Brown & Delicious
1269 Pendleton St, Greenville, SC
Andrew Huang is an editor-at-large of TOWN Magazine. Follow his food misadventures on Twitter and Instagram at @rooftoptales and #huangry.