Photos by Anna Goodson
Driving up to the Town of Livingston in Madison County feels almost like taking a step back in time, and that’s the idea here. The cluster of clapboard-
sided buildings includes the Mercantile general store, and the row of restaurants and cooking school are served by local purveyors, like the adjacent Garden Farmacy, which grows herbs and produce that keep things fresh, while reflecting our state’s agricultural heritage. At the County Seat restaurant, those herbs and produce, along with locally-sourced dairy and meats, are on full display as bar manager Brian Isenhood and chef Jeremy Emfinger highlight seasonal ingredients and flavors in their creations.
Enjoying a Sunday Funday in the country seemed like a good plan for this city girl, so one recent afternoon, I found myself settling into a wooden-backed chair at the County Seat’s long concrete bar. An aesthetic that combines the industrial modern with the rustic runs throughout the space, so as I looked out the windows onto a back patio and gazed through the doorway to the restaurant next to the room where meat is cured in-house, I also could enjoy two large flat screen TVs. On one side a long wooden table encourages communal meals and making new friends, while along the windows, smaller high top tables provide more traditional seating arrangements. While some of us enjoyed the bar side of brunch, over in the restaurant, groups of families with kids and babies in tow gathered to enjoyed a meal together. The menu on Sunday includes not only the bar and restaurant’s usual offerings, but also brunch-specific items. I do enjoy a glass of wine--and the by-the-glass list is impressive— and the bar also offers a number of craft beers by the bottle as well as classic and signature cocktails. However, I couldn’t help but notice the mirror on the bar touting a “Farm to Bar” creation called the Kalapaya Pear, so I inquired.
Bartender Matt Ruffin explained that every two days or so, the bartenders create a house-made punch using fresh ingredients that’s served out of the hammered silver punchbowl at the center of the bar. That day’s mix included pureed plums, Uncle Val’s botanical gin, lemon zest and parsley. A vibrant purple hue, it sounded fresh and summery and impossible to pass up, so I indulged.
As for the menu, it highlights the seasonal and local as well—bartender and server Josh Woodham explained that almost everything offered is sourced from within state, and two on-staff butchers cut and cure all the meat on site. I, however, stayed meat-free that afternoon. Though a tomato and kale flatbread was tempting, a creamed squash soup on the lunch offerings sounded like a good way to transition from summer into fall. Making use of seasonal squash, turmeric, pumpkin seeds and coconut milk, the soup’s flavors complemented the hint of cool in the air even as guests around me took advantage of their last chance to wear white before Labor Day.
PHOTO: Head Chef Jeremy Enfinger
A city-goes-to-the-country Sunday behind me, Josh helpfully informed me before leaving that Thursday through Saturday evenings, live bands play outside on the patio. On a crisp fall evening, a farm-to-bar beverage and some nosh out while looking at the sunset sounds like a lovely way to wrap up a day as well.
County Seat is located at 115 Livingston Church Road in Flora. Closed on Mondays, open Tuesday 3:30 p.m. - 11 p.m., Wednesday- Saturday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.