Lunch at Holeman & Finch (Atlanta, Georgia)
H&F is an upscale casual restaurant that tries to be gutsy (in a somewhat literal way) with their food. The menu (lunch, at least) is more offal leaning and the restaurant make and cure their own sausages and hams and generally, all of what we had tastes good. The cocktail menu is creative and the bartender and his team make their infused spirits. Service was as professional and attentive as Eugene but it feels a notch casual.
We started off with cups of coffee, cold unsweetened ice tea and Soft Eyes You Once Had cocktail. The latter is a beautifully dark and balanced tippler of botanical gin, cynar, ginger, dry vermouth, and sweet marjoram.
Our large tray of house made charcuterie and cheeses – finocchio (fennel flavored sausage), nduja, lardo, Ted (cow’s milk cheese) and Shakerag Bleu cheese – were generally good. The finocchio and lardo were the better of the bunch but I wish the lardo was sliced much thinner so it would melt on the tongue much faster. The nduja was too firm and not spicy enough to be the creamy, spreadable, really spicy sausage I am very familiar with but it’s still a good, firm, mildly spicy sausage. The local cheeses were tasty – Ted was creamy, floral, semi-soft cheese and Shakerag Blue was a dense, crumbly and lightly smoky flavored blue-veined cheese.
When we ate our way through parts of the menu and based on our casual observation based on that, we have noticed the offal-centered Craft section on the right side of the menu is generally well cooked but it doesn’t seem as astounding as we’ve anticipated (reason: it’s a specific section highlighting offal, there’s an expectation that it should be pretty damn good). The first offal dish were veal brains, black butter with brioche toast ($18) and it was incredibly spreadable and creamy and I was thankful for the briny hit from the capers. The broccoli, black turnip, lamb sweetbreads ($17) is an interesting idea to cook it in a style of a generic Chinese takeout dish of a pan fried sweetbreads tossed in a sweet and sour sauce and broccoli. The gratin of marrow St. John reads like a nod to the signature (and incredible) roast bone marrow of St. John in London, UK. The bone marrow was solidly good but it didn’t truly swoon.
Moving on to the left side of the menu, the food impressed us much more than the Craft menu items. The Buffalo fried chicken skins ($12) were incredible. Crispy (even when it sits out for more than a couple of minutes), intense tangy, spicy flavors from the Buffalo sauce. The saltiness of this snack food really make you want to kick back with a beer and be very happy.
The restaurant’s take on shrimp and grits topped with fried kale is arguably the platonic ideal of what shrimp and grits should be. The grits are actually Carolina gold rice (the best long grain rice out in the U.S.) and the sweet, perfectly cooked shrimp is local Georgia shrimp. The fried kale chips were a smart addition for some crunch.
We finished this meal with the head-to-toe pork hash, charred onion, pickles ($14) is incredibly delicious, hearty and satisfying. Texturally, this was a stew than a hash. To me, it tasted like the freshly made, hot terrine mixture. The various pig parts of ears, bits of cheek, jowl and other offal bits that is cooked to a silky, fork tender texture.[alpine-phototile-for-flickr src=”set” uid=”26389565@N00″ sid=”72157668682185276″ imgl=”flickr” shuffle=”1″ style=”gallery” row=”4″ grwidth=”1200″ grheight=”800″ size=”640″ num=”30″ shadow=”1″ border=”1″ align=”center” max=”100″]
Holeman & Finch
2277 Peachtree Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: (404) 948-1175-