An elegant escape in downtown Charleston with just the right level of whimsy, the recently opened Loutrel puts luxurious touches on homey comforts, giving guests a sort of dream-home-away-from-home experience: Custom candles that perfume the space with the hotel’s signature scent, and deep, cushy couches and armchairs make the lobby and Veranda Lounge bar feel more like a living room. This philosophy also drives the hotel’s culinary approach, where the menu features laid-back, simple fare carefully prepared with premium ingredients.
When designing the Loutrel’s menu back in fall 2021, Director of Food and Beverage Aaron Sagendorf let his search for high-quality, regional ingredients drive the dishes they created. He attended Garden & Gun’s Made in the South awards to research the region’s top products and meet potential purveyors.
While attending, he connected with William Altman of Altman Farm. Based in Florence, South Carolina, the small business makes quick-mixes and breadings from heirloom corn varieties. Their buttermilk pancake mix was named one of the awards’ three runners-up for all food products in the South.
The mix immediately stood out to Sagendorf. It was made with corn Altman grew and milled himself. Even better, the two gentlemen hit it off. “Will pours his heart and soul into all things he does,” Sagendorf says, who loves that Altman Farm varies the cornmeal's texture to create a fine meal for their cornbread mix and even finer for the pancake and waffles. He says, “I like [Altman’s] forward thinking, but he’s super humble about it.”
Sagendorf couldn't resist ordering a sample of the pancake mix. Altman later followed up with samples of the cornbread mix and stone-ground grits (made from henry moore yellow corn). From the fluffy pancakes to the indulgent buttermilk cornbread, each product was a hit among Sagendorf and his staff and the guests.
“They’re small-batch products with a great texture,” Sagendorf says. “People want to know what we’re using and where they can get the grits. I love to tell them about the product and Will’s story. [At the Loutrel] we try to do those things that are familiar but a little different. Being able to share the personal touch with Will’s story helps sets these dishes apart from those at other hotels.”
For a taste of Loutrel luxury, try the hotel's cornbread recipe, made with Altman Farm’s mix plus a few elevated additions.