I have been a huge fan of Chef Josh Hopkins ever since he showcased his talent at the Leap Year Dinner at One Eared Stag last year. Soon after that, he took the helm at STG Trattoria where he continued to amaze people with dishes such as pork chops with sweet potato puree, fried quail, homemade pastas, and braised octopus, to name a few. In January, he announced his departure at STG which saddened me but was relieved to find out he was just moving downtown and in to WOKC.
WOKC is in downtown. That means you have to park at the many street parking lots or pay a hefty price at nearby hotel parking decks. Or, you can use their complimentary valet parking. I love valet. It’s convenient and quick, not to mention safe — I don’t have to walk in dim alleys and fear for my life to get to where my car is. Let me also mention that the place is really nice. It’s so modern and with amazing views of downtown. I don’t really care much about ambiance and decor, and if you notice from this blog, I eat mostly cheap (but good) food from hole-in-a-wall places. Fancy eating from this country girl doesn’t happen too often.
homemade sweet muffins with soft butter and apple syrup (aka wow)
I’m not gonna lie — I came in with high expectations. After all, this is Josh Hopkins we’re talking about. STG is one of my favorite places to eat because of him. So, armed with my one month’s paycheck, my sister and a very good old friend took a page from my eating playbook and ordered (almost) the entire menu. Let me just tell you it’s one of the best meals ever. Food was super fantastic.
We started with five appetizers. Naturally, we had to have the pork belly. It had crispy skin, tender, juicy, and tasty meat, and came with these small squares of sage stuffing. There’s a lot of good pork belly in our city but this one tops them all. Maybe because the pork was made to stand out. It didn’t have any distractions like some apple or fruit stuff or sweet accompaniment to it.
The fried oysters were another winner. I don’t like huge oysters that take two bites to eat. These were bite-sized Apalachicola ones that were lightly dusted with corn meal then fried golden. But what’s interesting is the savory bread pudding and corn milk the oysters were sitting on. It’s like getting a bite of soft bread dipped in sweetish sauce. It’s so good it would make a great main dish if they super-sized it.
The deviled eggs were not the boring ones you see everywhere else. The yolks were whipped creamy with bacon and then there’s this crispy tomato skin on top and minced pork rind. You get this flavor and texture explosion in your mouth.
Ever had savory grits? Flavorful grits plus mushrooms, lentils, and porcinis. So good.
One thing you shouldn’t miss is the charcuterie plate. It’s a huge serving and if you consider everything on this plate, it’s really a steal at $15. Everything was fantastic on this plate: there’s homemade sausages, paté, different kinds of mustard, cured meats, grilled housemade brioche bread, a rillette of chicken innards, and the best part: bacon marmalade. Bacon marmalade! Don’t miss this one.
I love pimento cheese. Growing up, my mom made hers from scratch, dicing fresh red pimentos and grating sharp cheddar and American cheeses. She’d make pimento cheese sandwiches and feed them to us as an after-school snack. It’s comfort food and I have to get it whenever it’s on any menu. Here, the pimento cheese is sandwiched between a stack of fried green tomatoes making it a real southern fare. The cheese is creamy and smooth just like I want it. There’s also this homemade strawberry jam that balanced the saltiness of the cheese. It’s a real good appetizer.
We ordered four main entrees and stayed away from other ubiquitous items such as the steak and the fried chicken. Like I said, everything I ate here was fantastic. But the one that stood out the most was the duck. This, by far, is the best roasted duck in the city. There are so many elements that make a good dish: taste, texture, ingredients, execution, and smell. Sometimes, it’s just impossible to make ingredients and textures combine well with each other, even if it was executed correctly. Most times, chefs fail to realize that some ingredients don’t play well with each other. I usually consider a dish as very good if 4 out of 5 of those elements are present. It becomes awesome when a dish hits all 5. Well, this one hit it out of the park. The duck was juicy and tender and the skin had a light crisp and a tinge of sweetness. It came with this mashed sweet potato wrapped in bacon! Seriously, get this!
The other entrees were equally amazing. I’m running out of adjectives and superlatives. I mean, how many more times can I use amazing, awesome, delicious, fantastic. So, you get the idea. I liked the braised short rib because it was peppery and savory. There’s also horseradish that gave the dish a slight spicy kick. The lamb t-bone was not gamey at all. And the grouper? Light and refreshing. You can taste the sweetness (as in freshness) of the fish. I love that the dishes here don’t have heavy sauces. The proteins are already considerable in serving sizes so I’m glad that accompanying ingredients and sauces were chosen to be light and not overpowering.
You all know by now that I’m not a dessert fan. But my sister is. She got this Bread Pudding and Three Jars. I don’t remember what was in the three jars but she said everything was good.
Anyway, we had a fantastic meal — the food was unbelievable and the service was impeccable. This is my new favorite restaurant. Go now! That is all.
White Oak Kitchen + Cocktails
270 Peachtree St. NE
Atlanta, GA 30303