My final dispatch from Atlanta covers yet more successful food experiences that D.C. would be lucky to have. First, I’ll start with the whiskey bar Mac McGee in Decatur. I was blinded by bourbon, you might protest, and yes, the heft of the whiskey list, normally reserved for wine lists at pretentious restaurants, gave me a thrill. I went for the Four Roses small batch and then ran back to the bosom of my Basil Hayden’s–I love when bars categorize it as lower end; $7 will do just fine, thanks.
Bourbon sweater buttoned, I was steeled for the normal bar food: the skins of potatoes, the wings of chickens. But no such stand-bys were on offer. We dined on potato and leek soup topped with fried leeks (a trick I borrowed the very next day), an assortment of vegetable sides, which included beets, fingerlings, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and spaghetti squash (can you imagine?)–all wonderful–and finished up with fresh house-dried beef jerky. This is food that truly gives whiskey drinkers the respect they deserve.
A relative of the Southern diner seems to be the down-home, easy going cafe. Picture the casual, mismatched tables and couches, arty and cheerful interior of Tryst in Adams Morgan. Then imagine a totally affordable weekly or monthly supper club where you come for a 4-course dinner and some live music. Just such a meal was on offer this weekend at Atlanta’s Sun in My Belly. A single seating, gratis cocktails and Hors D’Oeuvres, and a $5 corking fee. I reel at the thought of how popular this would be in D.C. I had something similar at Lula Cafe in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago once, but a two-hour flight really defeats the purpose for an easy-going, affordable, seasonal meal. This week’s dinner at Sun in My Belly included spaghetti carbonara with asparagus, a watercress salad, beef bourguignon with cauliflower and ramps, plus dessert…for $40. Today I return to D.C. very full, but not at all satisfied.