On a hot and sunny Wednesday in late July, we had the pleasure of dining at Augusta, a wonderful restaurant in small town Iowa. Located about 15 miles west of Iowa City in Oxford, Iowa, Augusta has an interesting story on how it came to be.
Owners Ben and Jeri moved to Iowa after Hurricane Katrina forced their relocation from New Orleans. They opened Augusta in January of 2008 and brought their love of NOLA cuisine with them - and Iowa is much the better for it. Their mission is to serve freshly prepared food from as many local resources as possible. Almost everything they serve is house-made, from breads, to pickles, salad dressings, pies and desserts. They even make homemade mayonaise, which is awesome. They feature a seasonal menu with different specials every day.
The dining room at August has a funky cool vibe to it. They do have a full bar and feature Iowa's best booze - including Templeton Rye and River Rose Gin from Mississipi River Distilling Company in LeClaire. They have all local Iowa beer on tap and a great wine selection. They even have fresh made mixers for your cocktails. And I hear they make an excellent bloody mary and a even an authentic hurricane!
The menu is amazing. There are New Orleans favorites like gumbo and shrimp for appetizers, a nice variety of sandwiches that includes their Big Easy Burger, recently voted one of the Top Ten Burgers in Iowa by the Iowa Beef Council. You'll find a classic Po-Boy, as well. Chicken and catfish are always on the menu, but the seasonal entrees will change so you never know what you may have the chance to try!
Grant started with the Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo - a spicy cup of homemade soup that was earthy and rich, it had to start from a killer roux. And just look at that bread! So good.
For his entree, he had the Country Fried Buttermilk Chicken with corn and collard greens - 1/2 a boneless chicken that was breaded and fried to crunchy, crispy perfection. Grant loves fried chicken and he said this was one of the best he'd had - and he ate every bite.
The same year that Augusta opened, 2008, they were awarded the IPPA's Best Breaded Tenderloin in Iowa award. Talk about starting off strong! So, of course, always searching the state for the best tenderloin, I had to order one at Augusta. I must say, this one really earned the title. It was huge, but definitely didn't sacrifice quality - the bread crumbs were so crispy and the meat was juicy and flavorful. There is a fresh baked bun underneath there, and the hand cut fries served with it were delicious. What a meal. I knew I wouldn't be able to eat the whole thing at lunch, but it sure made for a tasty lunch the next day, too.
We did enjoy a nice bottle of Viognier with lunch. What the heck, we were on vacation.
We were too stuffed for dessert, but Grant did take a piece of their homemade bread pudding with him to have at home. They also have homemade pies and the most lovely of fried dough, chocolate filled beignets, so you might want to leave room.
We can't wait to get back to Augusta Restaurant. We'd love to visit during one of their Fat Tuesday events, or the Mid Summer Mardis Gras celebration. Also, they serve a Sunday Brunch that sounds fabulous.
Here's one of the owners, Jeri, with Grant.
Seriously, if you haven't been to Augusta Restaurant in Oxford, make your plans now. We can't say enough about how much we enjoyed our meal there, not to mention the warm, friendly welcome we got from Jeri. Ben and Jeri are a class act and have really raised the bar for what a small town local restaurant can do. We highly recommend supporting this great little spot.
101 S. Augusta
Oxford, IA 52322
Menus and much more information at www.augustarestaurant.net
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