But I also love food -- and all kinds of food, including animal products. Bacon, cured meats, a good rare steak, sausage, everything that lives in the ocean preferably still raw, gamey things like venison and duck and goose.... I don't consider meat an everyday consumable, but well-prepared and on occasion, it's a wonderful treat.
For my friend Darrell's birthday, a few of us went to Abattoir -- a trendy newish Atlanta restaurant from the schmancy Star Provisions people that focuses on locally, responsibly sourced meats and whole-animal use.
We basically ordered the left (small plates) side of the menu. Or, okay not quite. But we shared around:
- The chicharrones (which are Spanish-style pork rinds, and were airy & melty. Yes this is where we started. I wish I could say it was nutritionally uphill from here, but then):
- The lardo crouton (their version has thick grilled bread and heavy spreadings of melty fat -- like the best bread & butter you've ever had except even less healthy. It came topped with pickled onions, which really made the dish).
- The steak tartare (which had such lovely seasoning that it seemed refreshing instead of rich. Was terrific with the crisp garlicy toast it was served with).
- The charcuterie (which came with 4 cured meats and was possibly my least favorite dish of the evening -- not bad at all, just not particuparly impressive. Skippable, I'd say, though the venison one was delicious).
- The 3 terrines (pig feet, lamb, and pork -- the simple pork was the best of the 3 and the one I'd order again. The lamb was also nicely seasoned if a bit mild in flavor, and had pistachios in it for a bit of textural fun. The pig feet one was sort of dull, honestly).
- The potted chicken livers & foie gras (so, so rich and very slightly sweet. Counted as dessert).
- The potted lamb rillette (lighter than the foie gras, which was quite nice -- I'd recommend this one to people who want to try a jar spread but don't want anything too heavy).
- The watermelon fennel salad (I am maybe obsessed with savory watermelon dishes right now and this was excellent, LOTS of fennel, very refreshing).
- The beet ricotta salad (which made me love beets -- or at least learn that I don't hate them like I thought I did. Though I suspect that lovely homemade lemon-mint-flavored cheese would make anything more tolerable).
- And of course, what with all the spreadable things, all the table bread ever (so fresh from the oven I burned my fingers twice, but it was crusty-tender and made me want to work on bread-baking projects).
- Oh and lots of little pickled green beans for contrast & palate freshening.
We also had a bottle or two of Domaine la Garrigue '06, a red from the Côtes du Rhône region. Excellent, interesting wine -- cherry-fruity without being sweet, and with an herbal sort of undertone like licorice. It was one of the cheaper bottles on the menu at $20, seems to retail for $10 to $15, and I'd definitely recommend trying it if you can find it -- maybe not for sippin' on, but definitely with meals. Tartly acidic & dry, it paired really well against all the fatty, rich things we were eating. Hooray for the birthday guy being an excellent bartender who knows how the wine works.
We also tried a glass of the Oberon Wheat Ale, which had such a huge orangey scent and was so clean & light on the tongue that it was just what I needed to cut the fat towards the end of our meal, when even the perky wine started feeling a bit heavy. If you're not a wine person but want a little booze with your meal, this beer would be a more than acceptable alternative.
For all of that, our celebration only ended up costing some $35/person -- which isn't an amount that I would generally spend on a meal, but for a special occasion and with all that booze was actually reasonable. I've easily spent more than that at other schmancy restaurants in Atlanta and walked away hungry/otherwise unsatisfied. Aside from wanting to eat nothing but salad for five days afterward in compensation/benediction, there was nothing unsatisfying about our experience at Abattoir.
Other notes: Free parking in the White Provision deck. The staff was very pleasant, helpful, friendly, and attentive-yet-unobtrusive. Reservations recommended. Dress code is trendy/preppy-casual. You should go here.