Look, I make a point about not blogging about restaurant food. I've talked about that before; i’m not that type of blogger. But, like Tami, I’m making an exception this time because last night, the boy and I had one of the best meals we’ve had in Atlanta (it’s in our top three Most Memorable, along with a night at Morton’s and another meal at Joël’s). We went to Richard Blais’ new place, Home.
I don’t even think I can even describe the meal as well as I ought to. I’d probably be doing a disservice to Chef Blais with my piss poor descriptions. But if you’re in Atlanta right now, you must, absolutely must go for the bone marrow appetizer alone.
The restaurant was swarming with legions of fans demanding that their servers get the chef out there. Actually, some people were downright rude about it. “Get Richard out here, right now!”. We did no demanding. Besides, the place was totally packed and the kitchen was swamped, and we were enjoying ourselves immensely.
What I like about the food at Home is that it’s totally seasonal. And I love the vegetables brought out family style. I grew up eating dinner family style and I think it’s a really lovely touch. So what did we have?
Appetizers: crab cake, lamb short ribs, beef marrow
Entrees: pork short rib, tuna and beef rib (a take on surf ‘n turf)
Dessert: moon pie and Coke float, sweet tea ice cream with pecan cake
I took this picture after we’d already started destroying the appetizers. I didn’t want to be totally obvious and take pictures of every dish, although now I’m kind of kicking myself that I didn’t. On the left is the beef marrow; on the right are the lamb ribs; in the back is the crab cake with a smoky mayonnaise, which you’re probably saying sounds weird, but it was really good (and it passed the boy’s crab cake test. It did have really finely minced green pepper, but it was cooked properly and was the best crab cake we’ve had outside of Maryland, other than our own).
My grandmother had a saying. I don’t know if it’s a purely French thing or a Provençal thing, but when something was so good it was enough to spank your mama, she would say, “C'est comme la petite culotte du petit Jesus” (like baby Jesus' underwear). it's a compliment; it means it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted. I ordered the marrow because I hadn’t had it in about 20 years and the boy had never had it. I think he was skeptical, and I think a lot of people who have never had marrow are skeptical about it. You have a preconceived notion of what it might taste like, and i'm telling you that you need to throw that out the window right now. The boy watched me take my first bite of it, and laughed because apparently the look on my face was priceless. The marrow melted in my mouth. It doesn’t really have a texture; it’s mostly the strong beefy flavor that is out-of-this-world good. I told our server about the whole baby Jesus thing, and apparently he ran off and told Chef Blais what I said. Heh. Later, as we were sitting at the bar having an after dinner beverage, I tried to convince the bartender that she ought to try it (the brunette bartender. We liked her. The blonde bartender, although great looking and showing a lot of cleavage, was kind of bitchy, not just to us but her coworkers too).
The whole meal was indescribably good, but the dishes that stood out the most for me were the marrow and the sweet tea ice cream. We didn’t order the pancakes with foie gras butter that all the critics have been raving about, because we’d already ordered three appetizers; but the outgoing girl at the next table insisted I try a bite of hers. My bite had pancake, foie butter, and a blueberry, and it was very mild, much less intense than the foie gras my mom hauls back from France. I was really impressed and totally transported to gastronomic heaven.
Outgoing Girl next to us was celebrating her birthday, and I must say that her husband was a total ass. He tried to rush her through her meal so that he could go home and watch a baseball game. The guy was a total class act. And when Chef Blais came over to us at the end of the evening, the ass blurted out, “Richard. You better fucking win Top Chef because I’ve got a lot of money bet on you”. Um. Nice, dude. Perhaps you should go to Charm School. In fact, it kind of bothered me that a lot of people called Chef Blais by his first name, as though he was an old friend of theirs. No Chef Blais or Mr. Blais. And I think I know why. He comes streaming through our television sets every Wednesday night into our living rooms. He’s pretty well known now amongst TV viewers. So when people see him, they treat him like an old friend who owes them money. I guess a lot of celebrities deal with this, but it’s weird to me that so many people were so familiar with him, and some (like Ass at the next table) downright rude.
So at any rate, when Chef Blais came over to talk to us, I told him about the whole baby Jesus thing. He chatted with us for a few minutes and you know what? He’s a really nice guy. He’s very personable. I’ve read the comments on various sites critiquing Top Chef, and a lot of people say that he’s pretentious. But in person, he really isn’t. He was very charming and nice. The guy’s got a vision which translates to food extremelly well. he's having a good time with food and it shows. It was truly a memorable meal.
We were really honored that he took the time to come by and say Hi too.
Tip: if you’re a smoker (or someone who pretends not to smoke yet sneaks off thinking his wife is not aware of his antics), go take your smoke break on the patio out back behind the bar. You will be greatly rewarded with a full view of the kitchen in action.
Also, if you want a better description of the food served at Home complete with pictures, please check out Tami’s great essay.