I’m going to start 2013 off with a post about one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time. Yes, you read that right: one of the best meals. I have not read any reviews about The Spence prior to visiting and not even up to now. Most of the intel I have on the place was from hearsay. And most of those weren’t very favorable. But I’m here to tell you my experience and why I love this place.
I came on a very busy Friday night with four friends. The place was packed. Being an impromptu dinner out, we didn’t have reservations. Big mistake. Luckily, we were quickly able to snag space at the communal table at the bar and didn’t have to wait over an hour for a regular table. Being in the communal table can be awkward, as my friends lamented. Servers constantly reach overhead for bottles of alcohol stocked on the hanging shelf above the table. But I’m ADHD so I didn’t even notice it. But what I did notice was that it was loud, the place has an awesome, fun vibe, and everyone from guests to servers to cooks looked cool.
While menus change daily, there are mainstays I wouldn’t mind eating again and again. I’ve been here twice and both times have been phenomenal meals. One of the things you shouldn’t miss here is the Bone Marrow. Bone marrow is quite difficult to pull off. Most versions elsewhere give you nothing but a big glop of tasteless fat. Here, the grilled marrow is topped with tuna tartare for added texture and flavor. Oh, and the best part? Get this… it comes with two fried quail eggs. Eggs! The result is a flavor explosion in every bite. A perfect topping for the grilled brioche.
Salads and veggies are usually a waste of stomach space for me. But the Fried Brussel Sprouts were definitely worth a tiny bit of the space. They weren’t bitter. They were firm and crunchy. And the peanuty vinaigrette made them easier to eat.
Fries are also usually ho-hum. But here, the Juicy Lucy fries are triple cooked (boiled, fried then fried again). They were crispy and crunchy and just plain good. I taste a hint of duck fat in them, too.
Macaroni and Head Cheese. I would love a huge bowl of this. So delicious and creamy. Pulled head meat that was so incredibly flavorful topped the mac and cheese.
I had the Beef Short Rib that was just divine. The meat melted in your mouth like butter. The reduction sauce, to die for. A different take on meat and potatoes, this dish had creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes that just went well with the meatiness of the short rib. Chinese cabbage, radishes, and mushrooms rounded up an exceptional dish. I can eat this over and over again.
Chicken is chicken. But guess what? Not at The Spence. Richard Blais managed to elevate this normally dry dish into the most juiciest, tastiest roast chicken on the planet. A huge serving, better pace yourself.
I love pork and the Pork Leg dish here did not disappoint. The crispy exterior enveloped a fall-of-the-bone, delicious meat interior. Slight sweetness was added to the dish by way of slices of dried apple. I get tired of pork dishes that are accompanied by apple sauce or something so sweet they take away from the real flavor of the pork. This was one inventive dish. Bravo!
The Cod was another amazing dish (sorry, no photo). It was so clean tasting. The red wine sauce was so subtle it still allowed the flavor of the fish to shine through. Turnips and potato wedges gave it a more interesting twist.
I’m not a dessert person. I’m a breadgetarian. I would rather eat bread for dessert. But my sister has a huge sweet tooth and ordered three desserts. The Vanilla Panna Cotta was just absolutely exquisite. It was so soft and creamy unlike others that have too much gelatin in them. It had the consistency of firm yogurt. It tasted very much like vanilla. I could trade my bread for this. The Icebox Tiramisu was like a hard (but not frozen) cake that tasted, well, like tiramisu. The Milk Chocolate was more like a slice of firmer mousse and served with banana ice cream.
Everything about The Spence is good. The food, the service, the vibe. Even the diet Coke It’s my favorite restaurant. Run, don’t walk. GO NOW.
75 Fifth Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
[tag]American, Midtown, Richard Blais[/tags]