Sometimes “fancy” food just doesn’t taste good and is too damn expensive. There I said it. But sometimes, just sometimes it DOES taste good and it IS worth it!
In a sea of overzealous chefs looking to make their mark in the world of haute cuisine, I’m often left disappointed and wishing I’d spent my hard-earned cash on a hearty bowl of hot pho or a pair of handmade tacos on Buford Highway rather than on an overpriced tasting menu and wine pairing combo. Sitting all stuffy like with our pinkies out, paying $200++ dollars to partake in tiny food experiments only to leave hungry and in need of an In-N-Out burger run on the way back to the hotel. Ok, so this may or may not have happened at Fleur De Lys once? It wasn’t bad food, I was just starving when we left and I don’t have In-N-Out on the west coast, and there was an itch in need of scratching.
I realize the absurdity of spending upwards of $500 on a meal probably sounds as insane as 100% tariffs on European wine (jab jab) to most of the world. I am also aware that it is a privilege to partake in these sorts of experiences. So for this very reason, I want it to be WORTH that kind of money.
The argument that simple food is simply better, is real. Start with proper ingredients, prepare them correctly and you will never be left disappointed, hauling it to the local burger joint drive-thru window. Chefs, however, are artists my friends and so they must unleash their creative inner ligers.
Then once in a culinary moon, a dining experience comes around and flips my pessimistic snobbery on its backside, reminding me that food and drink can be whimsical and interesting yet again – and yet again I’m swept away down the rapids of adoration for this industry.
Led by local chef Joey Ward, Southern Belle and Georgia Boy recently opened in The Plaza on Ponce de Leon. This charming strip mall is lousy with 1930’s art deco charm and the historic Plaza Theater is an Atlanta staple where The Rocky Horror Picture Show seems to play on a constant loop. I couldn’t be more thrilled with what they’ve done with this restaurant space. But tonight, we weren’t there to dine a la cart at Southern Belle under the neon lit “Bless your heart” sign. Tonight, we walked past the cozy dining room, lounge, and adorable bar to Georgia Boy where a banquette, four small cocktail tables and a velvet curtain started our journey.
****Spoiler Alert**** If you’re going soon don’t read on, it will spoil the fun, but menu is seasonal so…
Greeted with a tasty glass of sparkling Ribolla Gialla I was already hooked. As the velvet curtains closed, I was left wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into and just like that, with little explanation, we began. The first tasting emerged in large round bowls where little orange shaped treats balanced on fresh cut mandarin oranges ready to be plucked.
Next course, was “A Trip Down Buford Highway.” This playful tasting paid homage to a street all local food-loving ATLiens embrace. The cultural exploration of Buford Highway presented a take on a Bahn Mi, Taco and Chicken Poori. Thank you for this dish!
Next up, Uni cheese toast followed by one of my favorite dishes, minus the University of Georgia lentil “caviar” containers themselves (hence the Florida Gator girl). This dish was spot on and I’m now beyond interested in the Oyster leaf and lentil “caviar” which can almost satisfy the craving for the real thing caviar.
Four courses in, we made our way through a secret passage into the actual dining room. A 16-seat private room where nobody gets “lucky” like on MTV Cribs, but where the true magic happens. The two adjacent chefs tables were simple and the room comfortable and unpretentious. Equipment lining the shelves, wine coolers storing the wine and ovens cooking the food…just as it should be.
The next course was a mouthwatering Carolina Ricecream Nigri with truffle, green apple and wasabi – I mean fish and ice cream perfection, who knew?
Followed by the “Fall is in the Air” delight. Maybe not my favorite flavor dish, but spectacularly beautiful with a smoky fall centerpiece to add to the ambiance. Venison tartare adorned with sweet potato leaves and coffee spiced “dirt” was just plain cool.
Next, my favorite course, was “Cauliflower Every Which Way.” I feel like the true test of a chef is how he/she prepares vegetables. They’re not as easy as they look home chefs. This dish worked in every way. A custard, a pickle, a puree and a dehydrated version of cauliflower combined in perfect harmony.
Next a UGA-grown Sturgeon (insert Gator eye roll) with caviar, mayo and pickle followed by the duck breast with chestnut, apple and sunchoke “pie.” For the second meat course, beef three ways with a progression of light to rich onion puree. Served along side the bread course – a steamed yeasty bun with whipped butter and fleur de sel.
Just when I thought my swollen, happy belly had reached maximum capacity and the 2010 Morey-Saint-Denis Burgundy that we brought to celebrate a birthday had run dry, it was on to dessert.
A cute presentation of cookie batter on a beater which was youthful but just ok, followed by Bananas and chocolate which was my kind of dessert – not too much chocolate. The final course a trio to get your sweet fix.
See a Florida girl can like a Georgia Boy.
The meal was immediately followed by an Uber home, a quick pajama change and a perfect nights sleep. Content women. The tasting was reserved and pre-paid online for about $165 plus taxes and fees. We did not partake in the wine pairing which was $75 per person, however it sounded interesting and worth it if you’re open to exploring, as it included a sake pairing and a Madeira pairing. The wine list was very affordable and thoughtfully curated.