Atlanta Social Season FALL 2013 : Page 46

dining Fall 2013 Reviews and photos By David Danzig 1 Buttermilk Kitchen season eatings A great neighborhood joint must connect on many levels: food, service, drinks and prices that make it reasonable to stop in regularly. But for a neighborhood restaurant to have any real staying power it most importantly needs gobs and gobs of personality. Salt Yard ups the ante on all of the above and sets a high bar for what a modern neighborhood gastro pub should be. Located in The Brookwood of Atlanta luxury high-rise condominiums next to Watershed on Peachtree, this is a positive-energy concept that locals and intrepid foodies alike will enjoy. I recommend starting things off with a “Swift Kick in the Tito”— a tickle-your-throat concoction made with Tito’s vodka, fresh jalapeño and basil. The vast majority of the menu comes out as small plates: from bar snacks like buttermilk gruyere biscuits to bruschetta made with ahi tuna and truffles to veggies like roasted Brussels sprouts and absurdly good blistered green beans to the hot plates like grilled octopus and ricotta gnocchi — these are all savory, sophisticated and made with a kind of creative TLC that will make you remember fondly, and very soon crave again. And here’s also something refreshing: the “small” plates aren’t all that small, breaking up the small-plate racket that some places are extorting these days. In other words you could actually feel sated by splitting two to three dishes, and at $4 to $11 a pop also feel fiscally sound. Sounds pretty neighborly to me! 2 Salt Yard 1 7 Beet-cured Lox at Buttermilk Kitchen Beet and goat cheese salad at F&B One of the icon out bites I had at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival caught me completely off-guard. Suzanne Vizethann of Buttermilk Kitchen , a new farmhouse-style breakfast and lunch spot in north Buckhead, offered up a hardly show-offy tidbit: pulled pork on a ho-cake (a pancake made of cornbread). Simple. Southern. Amazing. Its flavors were huge, but came off with a humble subtlety that showed the “wow factor” in Southern cooking is more about dutiful recreation than reinvention of the classics. And really that’s about all you need to know about her restaurant. The tumbledown shack on Roswell Road, with interior covered in stylish weathered wood, corrugated tin and burlap sack, is easy to miss but hard to forget. Vizethann and her crew drill down on the Southern basics, offering a few tweaks, but mostly eschew the whole modernization fad that’s going on with Southern cooking these days. The pimento cheese starter, almost a cliché on menus now, slathers beautifully onto perfect toast points and comes with house pickles and a homemade red pepper jam. It’s a spicy, savory masterpiece. The beet-cured lox made in-house goes splendidly with an H&F Bread Co. Jerusalem bagel (baked not boiled). Breakfast potatoes are thrice cooked — boiled, then frozen, fried and then frozen and finally fried to order with rosemary. Perfectly crispy outside, perfectly mushy inside. And the biscuits truly come from the buttermilk the restaurant renders when churning their own butter. These little gems have been declared by my wife (the biggest breakfast snob I know) as the best in the city. Brava, Suzanne! 3 Opulent I guess it’s finally safe to declare the recession over. A new restaurant calls itself Opulent ! But don’t jump to any garish conclusions — the new downtown Roswell offering from the F&H Food Trading Group (the brilliance behind 46

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