The List, Valentine's Day & Progressive Dining
Eating out around Hallmark Valentine's Day isn't usually a ton of fun. If the big V Day is on a weekend, we typically order take-out Chinese food (Peter Chang's anyone?) and stay home to watch the Westminster Dog Show. This year, since V Day was on a Tuesday, it didn't cross my mind that we couldn't go someplace fun at a moment's notice. I got the picture pretty quickly when I started calling places early on Saturday and had a few hostesses laugh at me. Apparently it's possible to organize the details of a date night weeks in advance -- who knew?
Time for plan B.
The List has been getting tricky lately since many of the spots we need to hit are either expensive (which requires budgeting!) or off the beaten track. So we decided to plan an evening of "progressive dining." We looked at dishes that we'd love to try and called restaurants to see if they served those dishes in the bar area. A few of the locations didn't (good to call ahead), but we found three spots that did and away we went!
Here's the roundup!
Blue/Gulf Crab Fritter @ Bacchanalia:
This is arguably one of the priciest restaurants in Atlanta and, based on the care and the quality of the food, you can see why. I've only been there with work dinners and once for our anniversary dinner. Based on those experiences, I can tell you that Bacchanalia is an unbelievable place to eat; unfortunately we just can't bring ourselves to spend that kind of coin very often! (So be aware of what you’re walking into.) The "bar dining" solution seemed custom made for our evening since the restaurant had probably filled their reservations sometime in 2011. Unfortunately, when we arrived, some other adventurous souls already filled the bar seats. I explained to the owner that we were just there to grab a quick appetizer before going to another spot for dinner. Thinking quickly, she offered to serve us in the Star Provisions store that’s connected to the restaurant. Yes! The next thing we knew we were sitting at the wood picnic tables in the store and getting full service treatment from Bacchanalia. The move to Star Provisions is the equivalent of sitting on the front porch eating - just perfect!
We were served both the starter (some little awesomeness of breaded and fried cheese!) and soup, aka the chef’s amuse-bouche. Deeeelish!!!
Then it was time for the main event. The item on the list is the blue crab fritter, and it's absolutely amazing. As you can see, it's a delicate and small dish made of pure gulf crab meat. When you pair the puree of avocado with the crab and the "glaze" (that has a little heat to it), you end up with a party in your mouth.
This was a phenomenal start to our evening. Next up, we decided to go to the absolute other end of the spectrum...
Beef rib @ Fox Bros. BBQ
We've been told countless times that Fox Bros is the best BBQ spot in Atlanta. I'm a recent convert to Daddy Dz, so it was going to take a LOT to win that top spot. The place was PACKED out and we were told it would be an hour+ for a table, so we slowly finagled our way to some seats at the bar only to have the hostess tell us they could seat us. Wow! Two fun seating surprises in a night. Woot! However, the BEST surprise was around the corner. As directed by The List, I ordered the beef rib - LOVED IT - but the big win for the night was the Frito Pie side.
How is it that I've never heard about a Frito pie?? (Texas, I'm looking at you!)
This is a simple dish where you open a bag of Fritos, pour in some chili (Texas kind, no beans), top with cheese and chopped onions. THIS WAS A SIDE!! Oh my -- I could have eaten my weight in this bag of cholesterol. Don't even think about going to Fox Bros. and skipping this. Wow. wow. wow.
When we finally pushed back from the table, we In No Way needed dessert, but you can't really call it "progressive dining" and just hit two spots, so we soldiered on and drove up to Buckhead.
Plum Upside Down Cake @ Aria
The bar at Aria was filled with couples who were waiting for their 9:45 reservations (they looked kind of grumpy too -- maybe it was too late to be eating dinner?!), but we found a spot before long only to learn that the plum cake had been changed to a Caramel Upside Down Cake. "Upgrade!!" Three restaurants, three fun surprises. I find it hard to be disappointed with ANYTHING that has caramel baked into it, and this was no exception.
All in all, we loved everything we ate, and we thoroughly loved the experience of moving around town to find our dinner. We may have just created a new V-Day tradition!