“We’re finding that the easiest way to describe ourselves is ‘Southern steakhouse meets church potluck,’” says Jamie Brown, who with her husband, Jeff Tonidandel, recently opened their Supperland restaurant inside a former church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Guests sit in restored pews and dine beneath vaulted ceilings, and the menu nods to historic Southern fare—mac and cheese, locally sourced steaks, and oyster dishes featuring North Carolina bivalves.
For a side dish, the couple took inspiration from a classic ambrosia salad Tonidandel found in an old cookbook. “Jeff read that one of the first—if not the first—references to the dish is from an 1867 cookbook called Dixie Cookery: or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years, by Maria Massey Barringer of Concord, North Carolina, which is right up the road from us,” Brown says.
The couple elevated the flavors of that recipe by perfecting each ingredient—toasted coconut, brandied cherries, and grilled pineapple. “We love just how fun ambrosia salad is,” Brown says. “It’s unexpected, it’s teeming with nostalgia for many, and it’s delicious.” Soak the cherries one day ahead, and then spend time on each ingredient before mixing them all together and serving the comforting fruit salad in your favorite potluck-worthy dishes.