If you’re starting to associate Suffolk more with olives and turnips than peanuts, blame Ed Beardsley. The downtown Peanut City restaurateur operates two of the city’s most popular restaurants.
And although The Plaid Turnip has been open since June 2010, and The Mod Olive for just over a year, being in a kitchen is nothing new for Beardsley, 54.
“My mother’s family is Italian, so cooking is a family affair,” he says. “My philosophy is quite simple: good food should be enjoyed with family and friends, and you shouldn’t need a dictionary to figure it out.”
This is reflected in its restaurant menus – the food is appetizing and accessible.
The Plaid Turnip offers a classic American approach offering all-day dining, with salads, soups, appetizers, main courses and sandwiches.
There is a country breakfast with eggs, country ham, sides and biscuits with gravy. Later in the day, look for a homemade pulled pork platter, ground beef with grilled onions and gravy, a crab cake platter, fried or grilled buttermilk marinated chicken, and more.
A quirkier vibe is at The Mod Olive, a nod to mid-century modernism with a varied lunch and dinner menu, including a number of classic cocktails.
On offer are braised beef ribs with gravy over mashed potatoes, shrimp dinner, devil crab, chicken a la king over rice or egg noodles and pulled pork shepherd’s pie; pulled pork with barbecue sauce, corn and peas topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheddar cheese.
Signature cocktails echo the golden era of cocktails: Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, classic gin martinis, whiskey sours, and more. There is even a mint julep.
“You can’t go wrong with a turnip omelette, or an olive wellington meatloaf,” says Beardsley.
It was passion and work experience that fueled his career.
“I started working in Williamsburg during my studies at the Polo Club and Second Street, and later in Norfolk at Uncle Louie’s, Elliot’s, Kincaid’s and Outback. I did literally every job in a restaurant, from dishes, from public transport, from waiting to managing, but never in the kitchen.
“It wasn’t until we opened Art’s Kitchen in Suffolk that I first tried cooking in a restaurant; then The Plaid Turnip and The Mod Olive followed. I have no formal culinary training, but I have worked with some truly amazing people who cook; experience and my colleagues in the kitchen have been my best teachers,” says Beardsley.
Whether he cooks at home – Beardsley admitted to being “lazy when I cook for myself” – or at one of his restaurants, he notes it all depends on the ingredients.
“I always aim to use the freshest ingredients I can find and like to support local farmers and producers,” he says. “I can’t wait for growing season because it means great local heirloom tomatoes.”
And he plays favorites.
“Eggs are one of my favorite ingredients. you can turn them into so many things and make them work at any time of the day. That being said, I’m also a sucker for simple potato, onions, butter, and a little bacon fat.
“Give me a griddle and a metal spatula and I can have fun. My best advice is to cook with ingredients you like yourself and have fun. Don’t be afraid to try something different and do enough to share it.
RECIPE: BRUSCHETTA MANCHEGO AND FIGS
Ed Beardsley shares this quick and easy dish perfect for snacking or sharing when family and friends stop by:
Take a baguette and cut it into thin slices, then brush each slice with a little olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
Toast the bread in the oven until it is a little brown and crispy then take it out of the oven and spread a little fig jam on each slice.
Take some manchego cheese, cut a few thin slices and place them on the can; add some chopped parsley if desired.
The Mod Olive is at 115 N. Main St., Suffolk. Call 757-935-5281 or visit www.TheModOlive.com.
The Plaid Turnip is located at 110 W. Finney Ave., Suffolk. Call 757-923-9740 or visit www.ThePlaidTurnip.com.
Patrick Evans-Hylton [email protected]