Atlanta is the bomb when it comes to food.
I was expecting many things from the city, but good food was not it — I imagined lots of southern fare and while there was some of that, I was blown away by the few places we managed to check out over the weekend.
Who doesn’t love brunch? You can sleep in late on the weekend and still get yummy breakfast food without feeling bad that, well, its the afternoon. I googled the crap out of “best brunch in Atlanta” and “top Atlanta brunch spots.” I finally settled on Highland Bakery and Poor Calvins.
We hit up Highland Bakery on Saturday. I had the ill-advised idea to walk to the Old Fourth Ward location from our Downtown hotel, which was 1.2 miles in very, very hot weather. So we were sweaty and tired by the time we got there. It was packed, which was slightly annoying but we took it as a good sign. We waited about 15 minutes before we got a table… outside. It was shaded and there was a slight breeze so it was actually comfortable to sit there. Still, first thing we did was orders some iced coffees.
One of the reasons I picked the place was their multiple “benedicts” on the menu. Joel loves his eggs benedict and they had fried chicken, country fried steak, crabcakes and classic — plenty of options. He ended up going with the crabcakes. I’m not a huge crab fan but the tiny bit of crabcake I tasted was good. After awhile, Joel said the crab taste got a little old though.
I went classic with the Highland Breakfast — two scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. I had a mini-panic when they brought me cheese grits instead of potatoes. Yuck. I can get down with some southern food but I’ll never eat grits.
Overall it was pretty good. Nothing spectacular and a little bland after the long walk and wait. I’d go back again though and maybe try something a little more adventurous. 7.5/10
On Sunday, we headed to Poor Calvin’s, also in the Old Fourth Ward but a bit closer to our hotel. We accidentally got there before they opened, so we were the first people seated. Can’t beat that, right? Except it was 11:30am on Sunday and apparently there is no alcohol served until 12:30pm. So we decided to take our sweet time.
We started off with the beignet basket and maple bacon and duck wontons. The beignets were so good — fried dough is ALWAYS delicious, but the whipped mascarpone cheese lended an added sweetness while the goat cheese gave it some tang. The wontons were crispy and tasty and came with sauce that gave it a kick. Not something I’d imagine loving as part of brunch, but it seemed oddly appropriate.
The entree menu was definitely a combination of southern and Asian. There were some typical brunch meals like eggs benedict and farm eggs but we were more intrigued by some of the more eclectic options. Joel went with the smoked salmon omelet, while I picked the walnut shrimp. Joel’s was a your typical omelet with a huge slice of salmon in it. I don’t like smoked salmon so I didn’t give it a try, but he enjoyed it. My shrimp was fabulous. The shrimp was lightly battered and fried and tossed in peppers, walnuts and a sweet sauce, with a side of rice. It was amazing and super filling. By the time 12:30 rolled around and we enjoyed a mimosa and bloody mary, we had to give up on finishing — we were stuffed silly. 9.5/10
By the time we got into town Friday night, it was around 8pm. We had a big lunch (thank you Publix deli and your delicious wraps) so we weren’t particularly hungry, but we could eat. I took a look at my TripAdvisor CityGuide (review coming soon!) and saw Max Lager’s Wood-fired Grill and Brewery was only a few blocks away.
After mulling over the beer menu, Joel had the Hopsplosion IPA. I’m not a huge IPA fan but I tasted it and it wasn’t bad — a little funky but Joel must have really liked it because he had a second. I went with the Georgia Air Lift, a sour white beer. I was a little over the sour taste by the time I finished it, but it was worth trying.
We started with the Alaskan Wedge, which consisted of an iceberg wedge, tomatoes, bacon, bleu cheese dressing and crumbles. Considering it included a lot of my favorite things (tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese), it went pretty fast. Since we weren’t starving, we decided to share a brick-oven pizza. Joel chose the Rustica, with pepperoni, sweet Italian sausage, applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella and parmesan. The man loves his meat and cheese. The pizza was pretty good — I enjoyed the crust, although all the topping weighed down the top of the slices. While some people eat their pizza with a knife and fork, that feels wrong so I never like a soggy pizza. We ate every bite though — it hit the spot. 7.5/10
The BEST part of the entire trip was dinner Saturday night at the Spence, Top Chef winner Richard Blais’ Midtown restaurant. Seriously, if you are in Atlanta, EAT HERE. Everything we had was inventive and flavorful. My mouth literally waters just recalling everything.
We ordered several small plates and appetizers, based largely on our waiter’s recommendations. I of course had to try the thrice-cooked fries. I love my potatoes and these did not disappoint. My favorite of everything we tried was the chili relleno. It was spicy, crunchy, mouth-watering deliciousness. We also tried the pork terrine, watermelon salad and a cheese dish. Everything was beyond our expectations. Throw in a few cocktails and a savory blondie for dessert and our weekend was made.10/10