Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Abattoir : Atlanta

We were excited to finally try an Atlanta restaurant that people had been buzzing about: Abattoir.  However, we found ourselves disappointed by it, in particular by the fundamental conservatism in the flavors.

Here's a few pictures of the menu that they had at the time, but I think it's frequently updated, so it may not reflect what they are serving now.  

The place has the whole raw, unfinished loft-y feel going on.  I suppose abbatoir does mean slaughterhouse (It boggles even my progressive mind why someone would go with a name like that), and the ceiling, the darkly colored and caged up lamps and rusty mirror frame, probably go as far as associating with a slaughterhouse as a sane person would want with a restaurant.  But really if you didn't know what the name meant, the interior aesthetic comes across as decently warm and certainly the place was alive with conversation.

A baguette with butter.  Liked the serving plate and the butter, but thought the baguette was just decent.  

Okay on to the food.  

Crispy ceci peas, cumin -
Fried chick peas w/ a hint of cumin.  I couldn't quite get past the mental image of eating french fries in little bead forms.  It's not at all crispy as the description said, more drier and mashier like the inside of large french fries.  Particularly because they were so pasty, the portions of this was simply too big.  Between two people, we couldn't finish it.

Marinated Beets, arugula, house made ricotta - Slightly vinegared beets with arugula.  We liked the ricotta, which had a very familiar/comforting flavor, almost like cream cheese, but with a much better texture.  That being said, I think had the beets and argula been served without the ricotta, this would have been very plain.

Pickled gulf shrimp, aromatics - shrimp extremely lightly flavored, but accompanied with fresh fennel, slices of green bean, slivers of red pepper.  To the point where you might not even taste the flavoring.  Not sure if we were fans of this.

Fried Chicken Liver, marinade of sriracha.  Foie gras mayonaise. on a toasted bread.   Liver deep fried with a batter.  Altogether a decent combination of textures and flavors.  Butteryness and toast, followed by foie gras and liver flavors.  Decently done, but not sure it went beyond just combining ingredients with innate flavor.

Berkshire stuffed pork chop - Nicely cooked.  However, flavor-wise, I thought it was only ok, tasting like a flavored ham, with a loose-meatball texture inside and very salty skin to boot.  It felt like I was being served  professional chef's version of what they would serve at family event.  I am kind of looking for more than that at a restaurant.

Cinnamon-sugar donuts w/ coffee anglais dip - an upscale version of donuts dunked in coffee.  Donuts very very light, but too much cinnamon sugar covering it and the coffee sauce without anything like the natural bitterness of black coffee to counterbalance.

Tawny port - not much of a fan of this offering either.  Very smooth, rather sweet and without much depth.

While everything was decently cooked, all of the flavors of the dishes came across as being much, much too conservative.  Are Atlanta diners really this a**-backwards in their palette and acceptance of flavor, that the chefs of Abattoir have to tone down their dishes to meet the demand?  

Only having a handful of restaurants that I truly would recommend here (and none of them in this price range), I will admit that I am having extreme doubts about Atlanta as a food town.  But for now, I will just limit this post to being disappointed at Abattoir and not at Atlanta as whole.

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