Photo by Carroll Foster
With a menu centered on made-from-scratch dishes, locally sourced ingredients and, yes, plenty of naturally wood-smoked bacon, Bacon Bros. Public House more than lives up to its appetizing name.
“The name really didn’t have anything to do with the business,” says chef and co-owner Anthony Gray. “We’re not just about bacon or barbecue. It’s more about comfort foods, which can mean different things to different people. But what’s the same is that it involves sitting around the dinner table and that familiar and comforting feeling of being home.”
Gray grew up hunting and fishing with his father, and cooking outdoors played an important role in his approach to food.
“Sauces, salts, rubs, ketchup, bacon jam—everything is made from scratch, which means getting the best possible ingredients,” Gray says. “We have great relationships with a network of local farms, and we couldn’t do it without them. They’ve been great partners, and a few will even grow something special for us if we need it.”
A graduate of Johnson & Wales, Gray developed his culinary skills and reputation while working at Maverick Southern Kitchen restaurants in Charleston and Greenville. In 2011, Gray opened Southern Art in Atlanta as executive chef and a year later was named an Atlanta Rising Star Chef. In 2013, he moved to Greenville to realize a dream of opening his own restaurant and launched Bacon Bros. with partners Jason Callaway, Mike Porter and Eric Bergelson.
“When we all got together to talk about starting the business, Jason brought in a mason jar filled with bacon he had just fried for us to snack on,” says Gray. “We started talking about how much we loved bacon, and the rest is history.”
Once you walk inside the restaurant, you know that smoking and curing meat is serious business. In the dining room, a glass-enclosed cure room encourages diners to take a peek. Around the back of the restaurant, a custom smoker, with three separate walk-in chambers, works overtime to keep up with demand.
Gray says that his proprietary mix of woods, including cherry, peach, pecan and hickory, is the secret behind the distinct flavors of his smoked meats. “Fruit woods lend a nutty and sweet flavor, and hickory gives you that nice, big smoky flavor,” he says.
While pork and beef reign on the menu, there are also options with seafood, chicken, rabbit and lamb, as well as a delicious twist on a few time-honored favorites, like bacon-caramel popcorn and jalapeno boiled peanuts. During summer months, expect dishes with fresh peaches, Bradford watermelons, okra, sweet corn and tomatoes, all pulled from local farms.
“I love being in the kitchen—it’s my comfort zone,” says Gray. “And I love experimenting with new recipes and ingredients that are close to home.”
Bacon-braised collard greens
1 quart diced Bacon Bros. Public House bacon (or other hardwood-smoked bacon), in 1-inch pieces
1 quart thinly sliced yellow onion
2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 cup sherry vinegar
½ cup sambal oelek (Asian chili sauce)
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup soy sauce
1 gallon chicken stock (or water)
5 pounds collard greens, washed,
cut and stems removed
½ pound smoked ham hock
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, cook smoked bacon over medium heat about 10 minutes or until crispy. Add onion and garlic, and cook 5 more minutes. Add brown sugar and all liquid ingredients. Bring the liquids to a soft boil, and add the collard greens in batches so they break down evenly. Stir the collards, add the ham hock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook, covered over medium heat, 45–60 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking for tenderness.
Bacon Bros. Public House
3620 Pelham Road, Greenville | (864) 297-6000 | baconbrospublichouse.com
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.