Within the first two weeks of Jessica Calvert’s new Brewer restaurant, Southern Spoon, being open, she was surprised to find people coming in to ask for all sorts of southern cuisine delicacies.
“More than half of the people that have come in so far have requested things like red beans and rice, chicken gumbo, stuff like that,” said Calvert, who moved to Maine last year from her home state of Mississippi with her husband, Jesse. “Somebody came in and asked for boudin [sausage], and I was like ‘What do you know about boudin? Where’d you come from?’”
Calvert, a seasoned chef who cut her teeth working in Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast, knows her stuff — she’s spent 20 years in kitchens, including her own restaurant, Savory Roots, which she ran for five years in Biloxi, Mississippi, before moving to Maine.
Since January, she’s been offering catering and meal prep services out of Southern Spoon, located at 495 South Main St. in Brewer, and in early July, she launched her regular menu there for both dine-in and takeout.
Clockwise, from left: Shrimp n grits, chicken alfredo flatbread and balsamic vinaigrette offered on the menu at Southern Spoon in Brewer. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
Though Calvert’s menu changes every week, there are a few items that usually appear, including her rich, flavorful shrimp and grits, a specialty that she says has already brought in repeat customers. Pimento cheese BLTs, homemade banana pudding, Mississippi pot roast, jambalaya and other Gulf Coast treats regularly rotate in and out, alongside an array of other sandwiches and salads.
“I really learned so much from cooking in New Orleans and from being on the Gulf Coast, so that’s really the kind of food I love to cook,” Calvert said. “I try to bring in as much stuff from down there as I can, like Zapp’s Chips, Gambino’s bread, New Orleans coffee. If I can source the right stuff, I’m bringing it.”
Calvert has been surprised by how many people from southern states who have moved up to Maine have come out of the woodwork in recent weeks.
“I didn’t realize how many people have deep connections to the south, and how many people spend part of their year down south and then come up here,” she said. “I’ll make anything anybody wants. If somebody comes in and asks for fried chicken, I can make fried chicken.”
The dining room at Southern Spoon is small and seats fewer than 20 people, but it’s got a cozy feeling, and the open kitchen allows customers to see Calvert at work, whipping up both sweet and savory dishes with ease. The building has formerly held a number of food businesses, including Riverside Pizza and several other catering businesses.
Southern Spoon is open for both dine-in and takeout from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, though it closes at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. For more information, follow Southern Spoon on Facebook or call 207-401-9115 to place an order.