Monday, January 15, 2007

Way down yonder...

To some, the words “southern country cooking” and “fine dining” are a contradiction. “Southern country cooking” conjures up images of small roadside institutions serving up fried chicken by the pound, and grits by the gallon. “Fine dining” however brings to mind small portions, high prices, and foreign ingredients.

It’s always nice to visit a place that attempts to bridge the gap between simple and elegant, and it’s even nicer when that gap is bridged successfully.

Upon entering Georgia Brown’s it’s very easy to get a sense of the balance between the cuisine’s rural roots and restaurant’s urban location. The colors are warm and inviting, though the intricate metal artwork strung from the ceiling took a bit getting used to. I wasn’t sure if this was due to the artwork, but the ceiling itself seemed low, which made the claustrophobe in me a bit uncomfortable.

Yet, we didn’t choose Georgia Brown’s for the décor; we chose it for the food. After a total wait of about twenty minutes from the time of our reservation (that includes about ten minutes until we were seated and ten until water and bread came – slightly understandable when considering that we were a party of ten) the first morsels of food arrived at our table.

For some reason that day I was craving cornbread, and Georgia Brown’s didn’t disappoint. A heaping plate of buttermilk biscuits and cornbread was brought out to the table with some whipped butter. Both were slightly warm and complimented well with the butter. The cornbread was wonderfully sweet, with an appropriate amount of grease to stain everything I touched for the rest of the evening.

After the bread was consumed, our first course arrived. I got a rabbit gumbo, which was actually my first time experiencing either rabbit or gumbo, so I was able to knock down two birds with that one stone. The gumbo had a great kick to it, and was much better tasting than it was looking – having a grayish-browning appearance. It may have looked like gruel, but it defiantly had me asking if I may have some more.

The main course was a BBQ basted short rib on a bed of potatoes with asparagus. The meat itself was quite good, very tender and flavorful. The potatoes, though supposedly “cheddar & chive scented twice baked”, appeared simply mashed with a few chives sprinkled on top. The dish itself came together well enough. The food was lukewarm, but again, I can almost excuse that on our party being ten people – almost.

Finally; dessert. I chose the banana pudding, or as my accompaniment called it, “nanner puddin’”. The pudding itself was fairly pedestrian, saved only by a couple of slices of banana and two vanilla wafers. I’m not sure how you make pudding sexy, but it doesn’t look like much of an effort was made to do so.

So after the check was sorted out and my car was claimed I can honestly say I felt reasonably satisfied by the experience. Nothing was especially spectacular. There wasn’t a single bite of food I ate that I probably couldn’t have made myself.
At some places I feel as if the gap between simplicity and style was bridged. The touch of rabbit in the gumbo, the modern décor, and the cured ham wrapped around the asparagus all served to add a touch of class to a meal that I would have felt just as comfortable eating in a shack on the side of the road in the deep south.

Yet, in retrospect, it was places where the gap wasn’t bridged, like the banana pudding or the lifeless mashed potatoes that left me slightly disappointed, but somehow wanting more.

-Ant

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

you didn't mention the fried onions. those were amazing. of course, since they were covered in pepper, i only had one (then i started coughing)--but that one was soooo tasty.

the thing about the 'nanner puddin' that i'm confused on is that it wasn't covered in meringue. i've always had it covered in meringue. but it was tasty, so i won't complain too much.