Eatin’ in Atlanta 2

January 10, 2016 at 1:51 PM Leave a comment

Atlanta is a big, busy city. Traffic can be problematic and a GPS destination of 18 minutes means you’ll get there in just under 50. During his last trip, Jeff was late for nearly every reservation. This time, he knew better. You can do many things, but don’t cause Jeff to be late for dinner!

A few months prior to this trip, Jeff experienced his first Basque restaurant (Txikito in New York) but had not expected to find one in Atlanta. Cooks and Soldiers is a surprise in many ways. The name does not call to mind the celebrated cuisine of Spain’s north coast. The logo features fishermen from what could be innumerable western countries. Under the name, you get your first clue, “PINTXOS * ASADOR” (Tapas, or “food on a stick” and Grill/Spit) All that disguises the excellent restaurant behind it. Cooks and Soldiers was Jeff favorite meal this trip.

At the server’s suggestion Jeff started with a toast-topped appetizer. He selected the Smoked Duck, Basque Bleu cheese and Cherries. A very nice beginning because of the complex combination of smoke, salt, sweet and crunch. The Bikini is a glorious “grilled cheese” with heavenly Jamón Ibérico, white American cheese and black truffles. He did not want this snack to end. The next small plate was Veal Cheeks, cooked to ridiculous, melt-in-your-mouth, rich tenderness and served over potato puree with vegetables. That could have been the end, but he called the server back and ordered one more plate, Chistorra sausage wrapped in a buttery mini croissant with a nice maple-mustard dipping sauce. Ordering just one more was good call.

Jeff’s dessert here may be the most interesting dessert he has had in a LONG time. A bed of creamed corn was spread across the plate. Atop sat a dollop of Pink Peppercorn Gelato surrounded by Caramel Popcorn and topped with Corn Crème Anglaise. If you’re thinking about the can of Del Monte Creamed Corn your mother used to serve you, don’t! I had those initial reservations as well. When the gentleman preparing the toast appetizers saw my hesitation, he motioned from behind the counter, “Have the corn!” How could I resist? He was totally right. We forget corn is naturally sweet. Pink peppercorn is not black peppercorn balls, but a gentler version that added an amazing spunk to the creamy coldness. Chocolate covered caramel popcorn was spread around to add some needed textural variation. This was a brilliant dessert that Jeff will not soon forget.

Bacchanalia is often regarded as the best restaurant in Atlanta and there is good reason to believe that. Everything, everything is perfect…except trying to find the front door. The address gets you to a parking lot. A sign over a grocery store says, “Bacchanalia” but no restaurant is visible. After parking I walked around the center for five minutes, checked the plaza map, asked two people and finally learned that the entrance is in the back of the grocery store! Of course, where else would it be? If the traffic wasn’t going to make Jeff late, the entrance was!

Despite the poor start, the meal was elegantly presented and perfectly prepared. Poached Georgian Shrimp with blood orange, Veal Sweetbreads with sage, Duck breast, Taleggio cheese with honey and Pumpkin Ice Cream with cornmeal shortbread and pepitas made up five-courses of interesting flavors and combinations. Jeff still thinks Miller Union is the best place to dine in Atlanta, but Bacchanalia is VERY good.

After a day of driving Jeff decided to park the car for the last night and not enter it again until it was time to head for the airport. Luckily, there was a highly rated spot around the corner, so he placed himself in the hands of wonderful Aria wait staff and took most of their recommendations. Lazy, perhaps, but they were spot-on. The beet salad was visually stunning, the short ribs were rich and tender and the tangerine dessert was refreshingly citric. The interior, while nice, was clearly trendy about ten years ago. To avoid traffic, it met Jeff requirements.

After each visit to Atlanta, Jeff finds more and more interesting food. Soon, the driving will become so insignificant, he’ll feel like a native Georgian! If you go, don’t use GPS travel estimates to schedule reservations. You’ll be late, but he won’t! 691 14th Street NW Atlanta, GA 30318 404-996-2623 1198 Howell Mill Road Atlanta, GA 30318 404-356-0410 490 East Paces Ferry Road NE Atlanta, GA 30305 404-233-7673 999 Brady Avenue NW Atlanta, GA 30318 678-733-8550


Entry filed under: Eatin' Out of Town. Tags: , , , , .

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