Purveyor Huntsville is a spirit-driven place, and the wine- and bourbon-inspired menu is just part of it. There’s a spirit of camaraderie here between owners Stephanie Kennedy-Mell and Matt Mell and chef Rene Boyz and their knowledgable, friendly staff. There’s a shared spirit of gracious hospitality. That’s clearly the way to do it. Open for only a few months, Purveyor already is crowded with local food lovers.
I went there recently for Alabama NewsCenter.
You can read the entire story here and see Brittany Faush’s cool video.
Purveyor Huntsville on the street level of The Avenue, a new, $36.4 million, mixed-use development downtown. “Let us be your purveyor,” is the motto of this place with its wine, bourbon, beer and kitchen.
It’s a lively, comfortable space with a classic metal- and wood-driven industrial design that feels warm and welcoming. A beautiful, long wooden bar, made from a single, enormous oak tree, deserves attention. Each of the tables, fashioned from that same really big tree, bears a small brand of the restaurant’s name. “Purveyor” also is subtly etched into the crystal wineglasses that sparkle atop these tables.
“We wanted it to be a warm, cozy atmosphere … for a fine-dining experience,” Stephanie says. “Fine dining in a more casual, easygoing atmosphere. Anybody is welcome, and any attire is welcome.”
The menu appeals to a variety of tastes and appetites. “We do have ‘sharables’ (small plates) as well as full-service menu entrees,” she says. “You can come here and just have tapas and a glass of wine or bourbon, but if you want a full-service dinner, that’s available, too.”
The Mells also own the nearby Church Street Wine Shoppe. Since 2014, they have made a name for themselves—and built a 500-member wine club—by bringing new wines to Alabama and offering expert advice about how to drink them.
Purveyor, though, was a larger kind of undertaking, so they teamed up with chef Rene Boyzo (formerly at Gorham’s Bluff). Boyzo creates dishes for the restaurant as well as for the wine shop, which, in addition to some 50 wines by the glass, offers tapas, flatbreads, salads and paninis each day and multicourse, wine-paired dinners for wine club members once a month.
Boyzo is from Mexico and was influenced early on by his grandmother, spending lots of time in her kitchen.
The menu right now at Purveyor is an exciting fusion of Asian and Latin American flavors, but that will change. “We haven’t defined our cuisine,” Boyzo says, “not because we don’t know where we’re going, but because there’s so much that we can do.”
Inventive twists on traditional dishes will always be a hallmark of this restaurant, Matt says.
Boyzo says twists on traditional dishes (like adding creamy goat cheese and a little bit of bourbon! to the guacamole) make things exciting. “We take something that’s traditional (like Brussels sprouts), and we put our twist on it (candied bacon and a splash of fish sauce). It’s something that you’re familiar with that you’re not afraid to try. That’s the key—engaging with the customer the first time they look at the menu. When they leave they say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that something that seems so simple tastes that good.’”
The cocktail menu, fashioned by a mixologist who also happens to be a history major, is special: The pages are tucked inside lovely old books, and the specialty cocktails are named after famous people, events and ideas. Consider the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton” with bourbon, sugar, walnut bitters and orange or “The Embargo Act of 1807” with gin, rosemary, pear, St-Germain and lime.
“There’s a story with every drink,” Stephanie says. But these also will change regularly because lots of the ingredients are locally grown and sourced and seasonal. The drink pictured above–light and herbal and a little savory with bell pepper juice– is something they are trying out for spring.
Stephanie and Matt and Boyzo all fully understand and respect the personal side of being a trusted purveyor.
“If someone comes here. … to dine with us, we take that very seriously,” Boyzo says. “We’re excited to be in Huntsville. And for us to make up for what Huntsville has given us, we have to do the best we can when we come to work.”