By Davis Coen
GRIT restaurant, located in the Plein Air neighborhood of Taylor, MS, has become respected as a top purveyor and destination for traditional-meets-eclectic Southern food in North Mississippi.
Since husband-and-wife owners Nick Reppond and Angie Sicurezza opened in 2016, after years of working together for City Grocery Restaurant Group, and running their A&N Catering company, the menu has consistently evolved while maintaining tried and true items beloved by return customers.
These include Chicken & Waffles, Eggs Benedict, Shrimp & Grits and Huevos Rancheros for their popular Sunday brunch, and Grilled Ribeye, Gulf Shrimp & Peas, African Spiced Chicken, Pork Shoulder “Ribeye” for main dishes on the dinner menu.
There is also a full bar, which serves terrific classic and house cocktails, and offers a high-quality wine selection.
Whether menus are created for holidays like Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day or Easter, or improvised for one of their occasional local art installations (or for a curbside/take out-only clientele, such as during the pandemic), the folks at GRIT have continued to push the envelope and show innovative ways to incorporate the freshest seasonal food items around, while always keeping it interesting and mouthwatering.
According to Nick, the summer menu particularly is centered around the local vegetables, and since it’s the heart of tomato season, it tends to feature a lot of heirloom varieties. “Local vegetables during the summertime give us a springboard for ideas,” he said. “That’s kind of where we start when we write summer menus, just because they’re so abundant.”
Although heirloom tomato-based dishes are a feature, cucumbers, squash and what Nick calls “amazing fresh peas” are also mainstays during the warmer months.
A customer favorite is GRIT’s Fried Chicken Fridays, which has occurred throughout summer in past years. The seductive photos of this popular fried chicken alone might be enough to ‘make a preacher lay his bible down.’
Outdoor weather is also a big draw for diners to the Plein Air neighborhood for its laidback natural setting, and the two-acre green space directly outside GRIT and neighboring businesses, which is why its sister catering company A&N becomes consumed with weddings throughout spring, having an exclusive contract with the event venue next door. “It just allows us a little breathing room to also do the restaurant,” Angie said.
The sizable lawn, ideal for picnics and live entertainment, also acted as a strong force during times of the pandemic when most restaurants were struggling to survive, and patrons were unable to enjoy the restaurant’s interior and decor.
“When everyone was kind of getting sick of cooking at home and cleaning up their dirty dishes, and as weather started warming up, people wanted to get outside,” said Angie. “We were really busy during Covid with that, because they would come out as families, or come out on a date and sort of have a lovely picnic.”
Angie also said that during those days the restaurant captured an audience that they hadn’t seen prior. “We thought it was important that when we reopened, we didn’t lose that audience, so we made some tweaks to the menu so that we were able to keep those folks coming.”
Although things remain tight for many restaurants, and staffing issues continue to loom heavy, GRIT has managed to power through. According to Angie they were extremely busy when they reopened, but things have since leveled off.
Although times have been slim for almost everybody, good juju seems to have been on GRIT’s side. How they stumbled upon their unique, charming location alone would support that notion.
The culinary couple were only looking for a ‘brick and mortar’ for A&N Catering when they were hired for a big event by the developer of Plein Air, Campbell McCool, and discussed with him the possibility of opening a business in the neighborhood. They kept in touch for a while before finally learning from McCool that the building they now inhabit, which previously housed an antique store they had frequented, was up for rent. “It was a no brainer for us,” said Angie.
Partnering with Heath Johnson, now Chef de Cuisine and always playing a big part in menu creation and what goes on in the restaurant, GRIT came about and took on a life of its own. Since the couple lived only several miles out, it all just made sense.
“Lately everyone has kind of had to crank it up a notch, but we’re powering through,” said Angie.
Visit their website at grittaylor.com for updated food and drink menus, and hours of operation.