BENTON (WSIL) -- A local couple is whipping up handmade, fresh meals that foodies will definitely want to try.
Troy Ray and Katie Karcher opened Seasoning Bistro on the town square in 2011 after meeting in culinary school.
"We both have a culinary histories so that's kind of our passion," Karcher recalls. "And that is what we knew that we wanted to do."
The historic building was first built in 1911 as a hardware store and went on to be everything from a TV repair shop to a pool hall, and few other businesses in between.
Ray and Karcher have continually been working to restore the building since buying it in 2014. That includes the exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and the ornate ceiling upstairs.
The owners have lined the walls with photos of Charlie Birger and other infamous mobsters from the city's and even the region's past.
Birger was held at the Franklin County Jail behind Seasoning Bistro and tried at the courthouse in the middle of town square.
"I was kind of a history nerd so all of my papers were about Bloody Williamson, the Birger gang, and the Shelton gang," Ray explains. "So it was just kind of a natural fit for us, having the history with the jail right behind us."
Back in the kitchen, the couple along with sous chef Chad Hardcastle are putting a contemporary twist on food.
That includes the buffalo cauliflower appetizer, a plant-based alternative to a buffalo chicken wing.
It's cauliflower coated in a mixture of spices and breading, deep fried until golden brown, and then tossed in a homemade Buffalo dressing.
The appetizer is then topped with blue cheese crumbles and green onions.
Brooke then got a taste of the restaurant's version of shrimp and grits.
The grits are made with onion, green pepper and a touch of lemon zest. Blackened shrimp, a spicy chorizo and creamy pimento cheese are then added to the dish.
To finish off the meal, Brooke got to try the Lisbon chocolate cake.
The bottom is a chocolate brownie layered with chocolate ganache and chocolate mousse. The cake sits atop a coffee cream glaze and is served with vanilla ice cream.
BROOKE'S PICK: Hands down, the shrimp and grits was my favorite dish. Although the blackened shrimp is meant to be the star of the meal, I thought the homemade chorizo stole the show. The Mexican-style pork sausage added a hint of spice. Normally, I do not care for chorizo at all. But then again, I've only had store bought, so this blew me away. I also enjoyed the dessert. The coffee-infused sauce kept the chocolate dessert from being too sweet. It was sprinkled with sea salt, which also enhanced all the flavors.