Tricks And Foams May Break My Bones
It’s cold here. Cold! When I booked my flight for Atlanta to see 80P and his parents (and cat, Sophie) I was not only excited about the fun food adventures, but the warm weather.
Yea, no. I assumed the South meant warm. I assumed wrong. It’s just as cold here as it was with my family in Jersey. But I’ll take it because while Jersey may produce Top Chefs it does not lay claim to Kevin Gillespie‘s ode to farm-to-table dining.
On my first night in Atlanta, 80’s parents (minus Sophie) took us to Kevin’s restaurant, Woodfire Grill. We were there not even a full 60 seconds and we saw Kevin! He was posing for pictures with diners, a celebration of celebrity that we would see many times that night.
After a few sips of pre-seating cocktails we were led into the long, narrow dining room—sophisticated, yet warm—and immediately upon entering we saw the tattooed, bearded fellow again. He preps out in the open, ensuring all diners can gawk at this almost-winner.
Maureen, our hysterical server, asked us if we watched Top Ch… and she couldn’t even finish her thought before we enthusiastically nodded. Maureen explained the sustainability mantra and the close attention paid to sourcing of the ingredients. Except for the fish (which is flown in the night before serving, usually from the Pacific Northwest) all ingredients are sent to the restaurant the morning of and are prepped all day for dinner service. The menu changes daily, which leads to another form of celeb worshiping: When 80’s mom asked if we could keep the dated menu, Maureen whips back “And would you like Kevin to sign it? Most people frame their picture with Kevin and the signed menu. And be sure to check the ladies’ bathroom. It’s really cute in there”
Of course I excused myself to the restroom and spied on this adorable drawing by Atlanta kiddie, Grace Schnider.
So the food.
The best part for me was the butter. They created a deliciously pungent–and spreadable–garlic butter specked with house-mixed herbs de provence. 80 remembered Kevin’s mantra on the show: it’s simple but it’s good. And that’s how he cooks at Woodfire. The food is beautiful and uncomplicated.
Itty, bitty quail, slightly sweet, laid atop ricotta creamed arugula. Lean, grilled duck surrounded by farro and baby bok choy. Grass-fed strip loin, rosy, barely seasoned and lightly seared. All well executed. All lovely to look at. And then there was that last-minute order of roasted brussel sprouts. They were soft, but still retained a bite. The dressing melded tangy, with buttery and salty and ended up as the winner on the table.
And then I winked at Kevin on my way out.