Matthew Hill’s grandmother, Ruthie, made her Southern-style mac and cheese with eggs and condensed milk, no béchamel sauce. Want to try it, just as she made it? Fortunately, Hill grew up to be a chef, one who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has cooked at big names like Craft, Aureole and for the Liberty Tavern Group. Now, he and business partner Todd Salvadore are getting ready to serve that mac and cheese and much more at a restaurant named for Hill’s grandma, Ruthie’s All-Day.
Ruthie’s is set to open in mid-September at 3411 Fifth Street South in Arlington. The space was a chocolate factory and ice cream store in the middle of the last century, more recently a Sherwin Williams store. As the name suggests, Ruthie’s will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, using recipes inspired by Hill’s North Carolina upbringing.
At breakfast, that will mean a line of biscuits and breakfast sandwiches, including ones filled with homemade sausage or brisket. Hill is especially excited about a biscuit stuffed with long-marinated, then smoked portobellos, egg and cheese. They’ll be served from a takeout counter, which will continue to serve takeout in the evening, even when the restaurant moves to full-service at dinner.
Smoked foods will be on the menu then too. “I love barbecue,” says Hill. “We’re going to have great brisket, great ribs, we’re also going to make great things on the hearth.” Dishes may include grilled local steaks, vinegary pulled pork shoulder, smoked lemongrass-scented chicken and char-grilled, gochujang-flavored spare ribs.
The menu follows a Southern-fried meat-and-three concept, meaning diners order a meat, plus three sides. Those will include Ruthie’s mac and cheese, of course, but also white-soy-braised greens, stewed chickpeas and smoked cauliflower with a spicy soy glaze. “We’re going to be changing it a lot based on seasonality,” Hill says of the menu. “ Every vegetable has got to be fantastic because it has to stand on its own.” One thing that will help that: Hill is already growing all of the restaurant’s own herbs at his South Arlington community garden plot.
Hill says that making diners feel extra safe is a focus. The restaurant has an expansive patio, as well as large windows that will open to air out indoor dining. “It’s kind of crazy times right now. We’re going to do our best to make people feel as comfortable as possible,” he says. That means that even those not ready to dine out yet will be provided for. He and Salvadore are working on a touchless takeout system sure to keep even the most cautious customers happy. // 3411 S. Fifth St., Arlington
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