I have been a fan of Chef Peter Golaszewski since The Epicurean where I tasted the best English peas risotto on earth. He’s now back as the Executive Chef at The Feed Store Restaurant down south close to the airport. While it may be a trek just to get to where he is, believe me, it’s worth the drive.
College Park. An area not known for food. Good food in particular. Driving down Main Street, it looks just like any other small town. A hardware here, a feed store there. A place you wouldn’t want to be alone in come dark time. But it wasn’t the vibe I got at all. It was quaint. And safe. With a lush park across the street.
The facade looks just like an old feed store. But the minute I stepped in, I was transformed into a cozy, chic but comfortable space. With lots of character — exposed brick walls, concrete floors, high ceilings, cozy booths, hip bar, a quirky painting of a fancy chicken. It was elegant. Yet casual.
When I told my mom (who is well traveled, thus, has eaten everywhere and has exacting taste buds) that I was taking her out to eat somewhere in College Park, she wasn’t receptive at all. “College Park, what’s there? That’s too far. Why don’t we just go somewhere in Buckhead?” To make matters worse, we picked a stormy, rainy night. Traffic on 85 was horrendous and it took us an hour to get there. But I knew we were in for a stellar night. That’s how much faith I have in Chef Peter. Actually, that’s how good he is. And I was right.
We started out with an amuse bouche of cheese froth, beet caviar, walnuts, arugula served on a chilled spoon with a balsamic-based sauce. It was terrific. Lots of contrasting tastes and textures. The frothy cheese was creamy with just a hnit of saltiness to counter balance the sweetness of the beets. I loved the presentation, too. And was amazed at how the beets were like tiny pearls. Mom was impressed. So far so good.
Next came our appetizer: Deconstructed BLT: pork, tomatoes, arugula, house-smoked mayo, chili oil. This is a fantastic dish. The smoked pork was tender and the (literally) smoking mayo gave it a smooth finish. The chili oil added a slight heat balanced by the coldness of the tomato slice. Really, this would be a good main dish. It’s that good.
We then had the cheese salad with fried SGD feta cheese, beet salad, arugula, cucumber-sherry vinaigrette. My mom and I both loved this. We particularly liked the fried cheese with its buttermilk crust (gooey on the inside, crunchy on the outside). The texture was just amazing. Like eating a very tender chicken finger yet not as savory. The cheese was so mild that it went really well with the cucumber-sherry vinaigrette. I really liked the presentation of this salad — tall. Salads can be boring to look at because you can’t really do much except to pile it on a plate.Being the fan that I am, Chef Peter decided to give me the opportunity to taste everything on the menu. Of course, I’m game. So, ready… fight!
The Cornbread-stuffed Georgia quail with tri-colored carrots and red wine jus was delectable. The cornbread was the best I’ve had (this one’s without the overpowering taste of celery); the quail was just so tasty and perfectly seasoned, it was finger-licking good!
The Pan-seared Scottish Salmon with zucchini noodles was very light. Yet hearty and tasty. Refreshing, if you will. Fish is always tricky since it’s very easy to over or undercook. This one’s perfect — perfectly seared on the outside, cooked all the way through, yet still moist and tender. The zucchini noodles were a perfect accompaniment with its cool, mild taste. The pecan sauce gave a littly nutty flavor but did not overpower the salmon which was the star of this dish. My sister will go bonkers over this!
The Pan-seared scallop, curried crab risotto, and cilantro oil was the one entree I wanted to taste more than anything else. I have been a big fan of Chef Peter’s risotto ever since The Epicurean which, sadly, has closed down. So it was a must that I try this one. Another winner. Since the risotto is clearly the star of this dish, it was made to shine by making it heady, bold, rich but not too rich, and slightly on the salty side. It complemented the mildness of the scallop but did not take away from it. I. Love. It.
The Painted Hills Teres Major Tenderloin with pimiento cheese, mustard green potato mash, and bleu-cheese herb butter was simply outstanding. The melt-in-your mouth steak was fantastic. The inventive mash with pimiento cheese and mustard greens was a total hit. Like eating two things at once: mashed potatoes and mustard greens. I liked that the mustard greens weren’t bitter at all. And the mash was creamy and cheesy with a tiny hint of heat from the pimientos. The bleu-cheese herb butter gave everything a smooth finish. Loved this dish!
Springer Mountain fried chicken & duck confit duo with pepper jack macaroni and cheese, Coca-cola baked beans, and scuppernong bbq sauce: marvelous! This is one of my favorite dishes. The fried chicken didn’t have that jaw-breaking crunch/crust yet still had enough crunch. It was tasty and tender. Perfectly seasoned and cooked all the way. Contrast that with the crunchy duck to provide balance. The duck was delicious and cooked perfectly with a crunchy crust. The mac-n-cheese was so creamy and heavenly and had just a hint of spiciness while the baked beans were just superb. Not overly sweet and you can definitely taste the Coke. The scuppernog barbecue sauce did not overpower anything but provided a way to make everything taste good together. It had a perfect balance of sweet and sour. Everything we had were winners. But this one’s on my top 3.
My mom’s absolute favorite: Country-fried short rib with buttermilk mashed potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, roasted shallot-whole grain mustard gravy. Also on my top 3. The buttermilk crust provided the crunch while the ribs was fork-tender and had that cooked-for-hours taste in it. All I can say is that this was fantastic. Gives new meaning to comfort food.
Finally, four desserts to cap off a night-of-food to remember. From clockwise: Chocolate Creme Brulee, Cheesecake, Banana Bread Pudding with fried ice cream, Rhubarb cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I love chocolate so the chocolate creme brulee did it for me the first bite. It was a far cry from the usual, boring, regular creme brulees. This one’s chocolatey. Real chocolatey. The cheesecake was creamy and not too rich. The banana bread pudding was absolutely the best. And the fried ice cream was a perfect combination. Really, you must leave room for this. You just must! The rhubarb cobbler was also a winner. It was not as rich and sweet as its usual counterparts (you know, peach, apple). Mom loved this one.I love that none of the desserts were overly sweet. I hate desserts whose sweetness gives you a sugar rush and then a headache. Believe me, nothing ruins a good meal than a sugar headache.It was an unforgettable evening. Food was fantastic and service was impeccable. John was the perfect server: efficient, informative, friendly, but not intrusive. And he knows everything about the food!
It’s quite rare to find a restaurant where every single item on the menu is great. Everything we ate was simply fantastic. Our compliments to Chef Peter and his equally brilliant wing man Cooper Miller (formerly of Element). We had an amazing evening. And we’ll definitely be back.
Avoid Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. That’s usually when they’re at their busiest and will not even be able to accommodate walk-in guests. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Plenty of parking. Apps start at $7, salads at $6 and mains at $19.
Trivia: Emeril Lagasse came in one evening. All the way from Kennessaw. Alone.
The Feed Store Restaurant
3841 Main Street
College Park, GA
Hours of operation to follow…