Southern Chef Salute: Wesley True
To the delight of his daddy and the dining public in Mobile, Alabama, this talented chef is back from New York City and thriving.
No chef likes to be bored. So Wesley True once arranged food in a stemless martini glass and served it in a bowl stocked with two feisty fighting fish (presented for effect, certainly, and for the amusement of the diners at True, his restaurant in Mobile). For the sake of all fighting fish in the South, Wesley has come to simpler presentations nowadays; while the fish have fled (expired, actually, of natural causes), his food marches forward, standing on its own merit. He brings to Mobile―a city not known for its highfalutin fine dining―all the techniques learned in the kitchens of New York City, working at top restaurants such as the famed Bouley, Gordon Ramsay's, Aquavit, and more. But in the South, unless you want the adventurous stuff (on a by-request tasting menu), Wesley keeps it within local limits and with added spark. He glazes bass with miso, enhancing it with mushroom broth and pickled ginger. He serves up filet mignon with potato puree and a port wine-onion reduction. As spring approaches, he lightens appropriately with local oysters three ways (celery seafoam and a gelée made from yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit; Bloody Mary sorbet; and beet mignonette) and lamb with eggplant Parmesan and tomato-mint sauce. He's ready for Mobile and, with each bite, Mobile is gladly taking to True.
The True wine experience offers 220 bottles, ranging from easy-to-afford to splurge. A favorite of Wesley's sommelier, John Mayfield: Chartogne-Taillet Brut Rose, a Champagne fit to enhance the food's flavors.
9 Du Rhu Drive (in Legacy Village at Spring Hill shopping center); www.truedine.com or (251) 344-3334. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30-close Monday-Saturday. Lunch entrées range $9-$14. Dinner entrées start at $19.