Last October 1, chef/owner Sarah Gresko opened the charming SweetGrass restaurant, bringing southern-style sensibilities to the area.

SweetGrass is a scratch-kitchen with a limited menu to ensure the freshest possible ingredients are served. Almost everything is made at SweetGrass, right down to the dressings and sauces.

“SweetGrass’ menu is what you think of when you think of the south,” Gresko said. “We gear our menu toward what’s being harvested at the time alongside southern favorites like fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, things like that.”

Gresko’s kitchen also makes two of the three desserts offered each day, and picks up breads locally. Other favorite sources are Rollinghills Farm, Kerr’s Korn­stand, Blue Moon Acres, Castel Valley Mill, Halo Farm, and Sanson’s.

One way to sample SweetGrass southern is to stop by on Locals Nights, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A $20 prix fixe includes house salad and a choice of southern fried chicken with grits and Swiss chard, or Cajun cornmeal dusted catfish with hoppin’ John and collard greens.

“We’re also thinking of adding a five or six-course tasting night to showcase local Jersey fresh,” she added.

Fall is coming so Gresko is reconsidering the menu and expects a few updates. Keep an eye on the website but know many favorites will remain — with a twist.

Whatever she cooks up, loyal customers and new friends can be confident the food will be amazing. Gresko graduated cum laude with a B.S. in food service management and magna cum laude with an A.S. in restaurant management from the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina. She also holds an AAS in culinary arts from Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing. She trained and worked under renowned Chef Donald Barickman, plus learned good, down-home comfort cooking from working on a plantation and in upscale restaurants in Charleston. Gresko even did a stint as a pastry chef at a West Berlin, New Jersey, bakery.

Still, a Jersey girl at heart, Gresko chose charming Hopewell for her SweetGrass restaurant. The BYOB is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. with a final seating at 10 p.m. Lunch is available Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

SweetGrass, 9B East Broad Street, Hopewell. 609-333-8912. www.sweetgrassrestaurant.com. See ad, page 26.

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