Dining Out: Staplehouse
There are plenty of reasons to love Atlanta, but at the top of my list is the sheer volume of fantastic restaurants here. Seriously, if you have a bad meal in this town, you aren’t trying hard enough. Still, at the very tippy top of places to eat, there is always going to be the Best In Class. In my short list, that includes Bacchanalia, The Kimball House, Restaurant Eugene, and now Staplehouse.
Staplehouse is the Inman Park restaurant which is the for-profit venture of The Giving Kitchen (read the amazing story about their start here) and a James Beard finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2016. I ate there recently with a girlfriend for the a la carte menu and we gushed about everything we ate.
Before I break down the meal, there’s two things you should know about Staplehouse in advance.
#1 – Getting a table is a commitment. There are two ways to reserve a table to dine at Staplehouse, either ordering off the à la carte menu or signing up for the tasting menu. If you want the tasting menu, you pay when you make your reservation. Whaat? I’ve seen this with some NY restaurants, but I don’t know of any place in Atlanta that does this. Even with this stipulation, reservations are often full a month in advance. If you really want to go and don't want to wait, you can walk-in and sit at the bar.
#2 – Staplehouse is not for the picky eater. It is not for someone on the Whole 30 or on any diet really. Staplehouse is meant for those who are willing to trust that a chef with ridiculous skills can make ANY ingredient scrumptious.
As I mentioned, we ordered off the à la carte menu and, given that the chef’s creations are all seasonal, what we ate may not be available when you go.
We started our festivities with “puff” and yogurt. What are puffs? From what I could surmise, they are blended vegetables which are formed into shapes and quick-fried so they take on a texture similar to pork rinds (this was our server’s description!). The resulting puff was sprinkled with a type of saffron and served with yogurt.
I wish they sold these in bags.
While I normally opt for a glass of wine with dinner, I had been told in advance to try one of the Staplehouse’s famed mixed drinks. I had a crazy-named drink with vodka. It was sweet and smooth, but I remember why I order wine; I do savoring better. That said, the cherry was a showstopper.We asked the bartender for the scoop and he shared the secret ingredient…apparently this jar has a $22 price tag, so we just looked.Yum!
Next up was the chicken liver tart.
Remember what I said about trusting a great chef, well this is exhibit A.This tart, served with dandelion greens and radish was my favorite dish of the evening – which is REALLY saying something. The menu didn’t give a ton of detail about the ingredients, but the glaze top had a honey flavor to it and the tart itself melts in the mouth. Check out the glaze…
Next we tried the roasted mushrooms. The deep toasty flavor of the mushrooms with just a hint of citrus were a perfect compliment to the farro and spinach blend.
By this point in the meal I was plotting how quickly I could return.
For my entrée I opted for the red snapper with peas, Carolina gold rice made with a fermented shrimp broth. The shrimp broth (like any fish sauce) made the dish have, what our server described as, “an aggressive fish taste.” We assured her we could handle it…and I believe we ate every bite.
Late in the meal we ordered “Grandma Lillian’s potato bread” which was beautifully cooked and served with butter straight from heaven. Still, it's bread. I wouldn't waste precious stomach space with bread next time.Finally, it was time for dessert. Our server told us the chef doesn't do typical desserts (why would he?) and instead makes everything a little on the savory side. There's only one choice so we had the berry dessert with edible flowers and a lavender sorbet.
Almost too pretty to eat.The entire evening was utterly delightful.
Can't wait to go back.