Thursday, January 14, 2010

Woodfire Grill

While we were in Atlanta Christian and I had the opportunity to have dinner at Woodfire Grill with our good friends, Brad & Tally. I made the reservations a few months ago, about mid-way through the last season of Top Chef, when I realized how much I loved the contestant/chef, Kevin Gillespie (because of his striking resemblance to James, his humble nature, and his awesome looking food) and decided that I had to try his restaurant.

Everything about the restaurant and the food was exactly as wonderful as I had hoped and precisely what I imagined based on what I saw during Top Chef. The restaurant is extremely cozy and yet contemporary at the same time. Walking inside felt much like it feels to have that first wonderfully rich and warm sip of a old bourbon or good red wine after a long, cold day (this was enhanced by the cold and rain outside). There are a few tables with both chairs and bench-style seating made particularly inviting with the occasional throw pillow. I don't mean to hint that there is anything fussy or feminine about the place. I know nothing screams lady like a throw pillow but honestly it is not in the least. The lighting is dim and there are votive-style candles lighting the entry way, bar and main dining area.

We didn't have much of a wait, which was sort of a bummer, because I was looking forward to a pre-dinner cocktail. Generally speaking, at least in this country, no wait is the mark of excellent service, so I shouldn't complain. The main dining area is split level and the decor follows the same pattern and style as the entry/waiting area and bar - cozy but yet contemporary. I have no complaints about service at all. Everyone who waited on us was kind, knowledgeable and interested in making sure we enjoyed our experience. The waiter knew enough about the wine list to tell us why it worked (or didn't) with each dish we ordered, which is something I think should be expected but doesn't always happen.

After we ordered drinks the waiter brought us an amuse and it was, I believe, deconstructed borscht. It was delicious and beautiful to look at. We hemmed and hawed over the menu for what seemed like an hour. We debated uniting to do the 5 course tasting but since Tally is both expecting and a vegetarian (2 years of eating nothing but mutton in Mongolia while working for the Peace Corps will do that, I reckon) we opted to stay with the menu. Christian was set on a tasting menu and lucked out because there was a 3 course tasting option that he could do. That said, my choices killed the tasting choices - which was fine because I shared. I started with a beet salad that was outstanding, followed with scallops and pork belly (the best dish of the night, in my opinion) and settled on a pork loin for my entree - which was possibly the best pork loin I have ever had. I don't remember all of the details of Christian's courses and the menu has changed since our visit but I recall one course was a celery soup and he HATES celery, hates it with the same passion with which I hate cilantro. Fortunately, I LOVE celery and totally enjoyed the very refreshing soup. His entree was a quail dish - another Kevin forte apparently. I have never been much for 'small' birds. I don't love picking up and eating small bones, not sure why - perhaps they just feel too dainty and fragile in my hands. At any rate the quail was good but didn't hold a candle to my dish. We had a few desserts and they were not memorable necessarily, but dessert rarely is. One of the desserts was a bacon smoked banana dish and it was the most interesting of the selections.

The wine list was extensive and obviously very carefully thought out - something I always appreciate. The bread, generally the second most important part of my dining experience, was mouth-wateringly delicious (caveat - I could live off of bread along, especially good bread).

All in all it was a lovely night at Woodfire Grill. I would love to go back one day and will continue to recommend it to friends. The highlight of the night was, however, this little note I discovered hanging on the wall in the bathroom. I tried to get a picture of it with Brad's iphone but I was getting the stink eye from some lady who must've been offended by my amateurish behavior. The shot below was my best effort under the circumstances. In case you can't read it it says, "Kevin, tell the Voltaggio's - sticks and stones may break my bones but foam will never hurt me" and is signed by some 10 year old girl.

I love it. Thanks to a handy new tool on Blogger you can click on the title of this post and it will link you to the Woodfire website.


Anonymous said...

I will not concur on it. I regard as warm-hearted post. Especially the title attracted me to read the unscathed story.

Kitty Brown said...

Great report. Love the note from the little girl! And totally agree on the importance of good bread.