Yes, you're reading correctly. I am posting about a restaurant. I have to preface this post by saying that this is a cooking blog - and will always be. However, I eat out a lot. So much so that it could be considered a hobby. Living in Atlanta, we have an incredible restaurant scene. It's one that is often overlooked by the media and publications. So, in an effort to try and do my small part to remedy that, I am going to - from time to time - blog about particularly great meals that I've had in Atlanta and on my travels.
Last week, I was lucky enough to experience the first week of Richard Blais cooking at Home, his new restaurant. I have been dining in Richard's restaurants for years now and I have always found his food to be interesting and thought-provoking. Many of you know him from the current season of Top Chef, where he is kicking a lot of ass. It's been interesting to see him on the show...and I was curious as to what effect that would have on his cuisine. The Richard Blais I spoke with at the end of the meal was kind, charming, warm, and confident. Those qualities came out in the food, which is Southern-inspired with a Blais twist.
It was a spectacular meal from start to finish - a great feat in my eyes because I think Southern cooking is something near and dear to people's hearts. Modern twists on Southern cuisine are often looked up with a skeptical eye. One need not worry when it comes to Home.
We sampled a good bit of the menu that evening. A delicious basil martini took the edge off of the drive there in Atlanta traffic - driving in Atlanta is often a character building exercise. We started off with a group of starters. The fried green tomatoes with Ranch ice cream was typical Blais - savory ice creams are something he excels at. The Tabasco "dippin dots" on the raw oysters were eye-opening, both in their novelty and their heat. The deviled duck eggs come topped with changing toppings - ours were salmon tartare, short ribs, and pickles & cornichons. Those two dishes are pictured in this post.
Moving onto larger plates, we continued to be wowed. The perfectly cooked duck egg on the wild mushroom dish created such an oozy sauce for the woody mushrooms. We also had the crab cake, which was perfectly executed with a nice addition of a Brussels sprout slaw. The winner of that round of dishes was the pancakes with blueberries (and blackberries, in our case) and foie gras butter. Yes. Foie gras butter. The play of textures and flavors was phenomenal.
At this point, we were approaching maximum capacity. However, after seeing the fried chicken being brought to the table next to us, we just had to try it. The coating was crispy and crunchy with lingering herb and honey flavors. Alongside it was the best mac-n-cheese I have ever consumed. Ever. Cooked in its own individual cast iron skillet, it was chunky but creamy and just...heavenly. Sides were brought family style to the table, including marinated yellow beets which I just love.
Service was spot on throughout the night, which was impressive considering the restaurant was in transition and had only been open for 3 nights at that point. The wine list is short but thorough - it does suffer a bit from the Atlanta perils of big oaky Chardonnay and huge Cab overload. The dining room is cozy and intimate without feeling crowded.
Writing about this meal let me relive it all over again - that's a good thing. I am so pleased that Blais, considering the exposure and success he is currently experiencing, has chosen to stay here in Atlanta. I'm sure he could have gone elsewhere...but I think his cuisine and his perspective are really important for our city. He does something no one else does and I feel very fortunate to be able to experience it. For a full rundown of the dishes we ate, you can check out all of my photos in the Flickr set here.