After more than a decade working with some of the best Southern chefs around in Charleston and Nashville Chef Cole Ellis decided to return to his roots. He moved back to his hometown of Cleveland, Mississippi and in 2013 opened Delta Meat Market in the heart of town as a butcher shop and boutique grocer of fine Southern foods.
As Delta Meat Market gained community and national acclaim, the small grocery began serving counter-style lunch with a daily rotating menu of oyster po-boys, muffletas, smoked catfish, house made pimento cheese, fried chicken, enchiladas and other inventive dishes. It wasn’t long before Cotton House Hotel came calling.
Now five years after opening Delta Meat Market, Chef Ellis’ much acclaimed market has a new home in the hotel offering breakfast, lunch, dinner. In addition Chef Ellis, a 2017 James Beard semifinalist for “Best Chef South,” brings his nationally acclaimed culinary skills to Bar Fontaine, an upscale European bar and restaurant opened in the Cotton House Hotel in downtown Cleveland.
Bar Fontaine offers an inspiring vantage point of the Mississippi Delta to compliment their cocktail program and the menu’s European-inspired small plates. Bar Fontaine combines the culture of Europe with locally sourced ingredients and adds in the comfort of Southern cuisine with an intimate dining experience that is all at once refined and approachable: a European respite at home in the Delta.
From the menu at Bar Fontaine, the Creamy Polenta recipe, which is a perfect Southern comfort dish for the winter months can be topped with any number of seasonal ingredients. This topping of pancetta, fried eggs and arugula makes it a perfect “upscale southern” dish offering flavorful elements, making it easy to prepare at home.
Creamy Polenta with Pancetta, Arugula and Fried Eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 cups water
- ¾ cup polenta medium grind
- ¼ cup fine cornmeal
- 3 Tbsps butter
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- kosher salt
- freshly grated black pepper
- Bring 3 cups of the water, 1 cup milk, and salt to a boil in a 4 quart pan. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add cornmeal in a slow and steady stream, constantly whisking to prevent lumps.
- Simmer polenta, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat, stir in butter and olive oil, and then stir in mascarpone and Parmesan cheese.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
- Serve immediately.
Summer Corn Tomato Salad
- 8 oz. medium diced pancetta
- 2 lemons
- 4 oz. arugula
- freshly grated flack pepper
- 4 eggs
- Render the pancetta over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Remove the pancetta, and reduce the heat and fry the eggs sunny side up.
- Juice the lemons.
- In a bowl, dress the arugula with lemon juice and the pancetta drippings. Season to taste.
- Plate the polenta in a large shallow bowl, place the fried eggs on top, then finish with the arugula salad and sprinkle the rendered pancetta on the top.
CHEF COLE ELLIS Graduated from the Culinary Institute of Charleston with a Bachelors of Culinary Arts in Baking and Pastry, as well as a Bachelors of Restaurant and Hotel Management, Cole Ellis spent 13 years in Charleston and Nashville under the tutelage of Tom Colicchio and Sean Brock. He worked in some of Charleston’s most acclaimed kitchens such as Magnolia’s, Hominy Grill, and Carolina’s, as well as Voysey’s Pub and The Tides, both Colicchio properties, located on Kiawah Island. He left Charleston to work with chef Tyler Brown at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville where he took on the chef de cuisine post, and was responsible for raising livestock and running the vegetable garden for the property’s Capitol Grille. In 2013, Cole returned to his hometown of Cleveland, Mississippi to open Delta Meat Market, a butcher shop and boutique grocer of fine Southern foods. Nominated as a semifinalist in 2017 for the James Beard Award “Best Chef South.”