Saturday, August 7, 2010

Top Chef Atlanta

I found myself back in Atlanta recently and got the opportunity to eat at the restaurant co-owned by one of my favorite Top Chef contestants - Kevin Gillespie's Woodfire Grill.  I have been in Atlanta a few times over the past few months to take classes at Georgia Tech. My trip usually includes at least one meal with my friends Tyler and Lindsey (you might remember the photos from their beautiful wedding just a few weeks ago) - hopefully I won't wear out my welcome soon as I'll be back in a few months!  Anyway, they were able to score us reservations and we went on a weeknight at 6:15.

I have to admit that I didn't know what to expect.  I have been disappointed in the past when my expectations are high (and of course they were in this case because he was one of the Top Chef finalists).  I have to say that the meal blew me away.  We got the 5 course chef blind tasting menu (meaning that we didn't know what would come) with the wine pairing.  This also included two little amuse bouches in between courses making a total of 7 dishes with 7 wines that we got to taste.  Being the good blogger that I am - I of course photographed every last bite.  I had to share this meal with my friends and family (thank you Tyler and Lindsey for putting up with my camera at the table).

Amuse bouche #1: beets, carrots, and a lovely curry like sauce 

Course #1: olive oil poached shrimp, flash fried okra (yum!) on a chickpea salad on top of an aioli 

Course #2: lovely rice in squid ink, with squid and onions on top
served with a romanesco sauce with an egg yolk cooked perfectly in a sous vide machine

Amuse bouche #2: tomato with cubed melon and cucumber

Course #3: a duet of pork belly and quail with a garlic honey glaze
served over a squash salad (included raw and cooked squash)

Course #4: Lamb with a salad of local field peas and green beans
served with some celery and a sauce I can't remember

Course #5: a semolina blueberry cake with blueberry gelato
served with a creme anglaise and another white chocolate thing (didn't taste quite like ice cream or custard)
and some crumbs of something delicious
So which was my favorite course?  It was SO hard to choose!  I loved the quail and pork belly.  Before this meal, I had never had quail before!  It was perfect with the crispy skin and honey garlic glaze.  The pork belly had cooked for almost a full day which included a night spent above a wood fire, which gave it this wonderful smokey flavor (and not super fatty chewy like pork belly I have had before).  The squid ink rice was also outstanding - I loved the egg yolk and the rich taste of the rice and onions.

By the way, like a star struck teenager I asked to have my picture taken with Kevin (and he gracefully agreed)!

What was really fun about this meal is that I probably wouldn't have selected any of these things from a menu.  It really expanded my food horizons.  Atlanta has such great restaurants!  I can't wait to find an excuse to make it back to this place - if only it were 1. less expensive and 2. located in the Bay Area (although if this restaurant was in the Bay Area, it would be a lot more expensive than it is now).

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