Monday, August 17, 2009

restaurant: Abattoir

I eat mostly vegetarian food -- I feel healthier when I do, I think it's more environmentally responsible, and having worked for a nutrition textbook publisher for a year or two means that I know too much about how the human body handles animal fat versus plant fat. If I'm cooking for myself, it's always vegetarian (at least half 'cause it's just easier) and I'm more likely than not to buy meatless meals in restaurants and from the frozen section.

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.


juliana said...

Sounds amazing! I work right by Star Provisions and will now have day dreams of meat products dancing through my head as I drive by. ;)

the grammar monkey said...

I think you'd LOVE Abattoir. It's rad casually schmancy culinary adventures.

Anonymous said...

I to have been eating veggies since that night.
We had Bi Bim Bap at Super H mart Sunday, then a garden vegetable dinner coinciding with my Mom's visit Sunday night.
Pizza at SLICE downtown Monday (sundries, artichokes & feta) and a slighty different garden veggie dinner Monday night.
To top it all off, I took Mom to R Thomas for brunch, which she lurved!
And enfin, baked squash & zucchini with some corn on the cob for dinner after work.

Anonymous said...

Crazy comment form
The above posted by Dawoo.

the grammar monkey said...

Vegetables are sometimes the best things ever.

Also, we should have an Asian Market Sunday sometime -- just raid the prepared/frozen foods and have a feast of dumplings, filled buns, and things we don't understand and can't pronounce.

the grammar monkey said...

OH HEY ALSO info about Trois is upcoming... I realized this entry was already way chatty and figured I had more than enough to say for a whole 'nother one.