Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


We’ve been happily resident in the East Cobb suburb of Atlanta for the past thirteen years. The excellent Cobb County schools are no longer of particular interest to us, given that our children are now well past their public education years, except insofar as they bolster local property values... and continue to employ She Who Must Be Obeyed. The traffic, which grows ever denser (as do the drivers themselves) is an annoyance, but one we are used to dealing with. The main attractions for us have been the proximity of our good friends, the pleasant climate, and the reasonable cost of living. Reasonable when compared to the Northeast, anyway.

It’s a great place to live... but perfect, it ain’t.

One of the minor frustrations has been the relative dearth of good restaurants in the immediate area. Oh, there are plenty of places to eat, and some of them are pretty decent. Yet it seems that all of the newer local offerings are either Mexican or Chinese (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but Enough is Enough); or are outposts of popular chain restaurants. Color me unimpressed.

Whenever we want to tie on the feedbag for a serious restaurant meal, we always seem to find ourselves heading up to Roswell or Alpharetta, or down to Sandy Springs, Buckhead, or midtown.

Things are changing, though.

Last night, a group of us dined at Seed Kitchen and Bar, a new place that opened just a few weeks ago, hard by the new Whole Paycheck Foods Market. Based on our experience, there’s no longer any need to schlep to Buckhead for an excellent restaurant meal, unless we want to for the sake of variety... because the meal we had at Seed was about as good as any I’ve ever had in Atlanta.

Seed bills itself as a chef-driven, modern American neigborhood restaurant that supports local growers and strives to be socially responsible. That green business is all good, but having a solid menu - and executing and serving the dishes properly - is crucial. The best grass-fed local beef can still be converted into a crappy burger served cold, twenty minutes after everyone else at the table has been served. Happily, that was not the case here... and there was not a single alfalfa sprout on the menu.

I started off with a Sazerac, a classic pre-Prohibition cocktail that few bars offer, and even fewer get right. These guys got it right, using real rye whiskey, Herbsaint, and Peychaud’s bitters. (OK, they dropped the lemon twist into the drink instead of hanging it on the side of the glass... a very minor miscue, and the only one of the evening.)

Houston Steve and I, by way of an appetizer, shared a charcuterie plate. Yes, there was a chunk of Sweet Grass Dairy’s Green Hill, SWMBO’s favorite bloomy-rind cheese, but what won me over was the meltingly soft duck-breast pastrami. Oh. My. Gawd.

My main course consisted of beef short ribs braised in Chinese spices, served atop a pile of garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized onions. The spice provided a gentle, not overly assertive backdrop for the meltingly tender, unctuous meat. She Who Must Be Obeyed had ordered the North Carolina flounder, accompanied by roasted cauliflower and caramelized Brussels sprouts in a Thai herb vinaigrette. It was superb. Gary had the hanger steak, perfectly prepared, napped with a caramelized onion and red wine reduction and with a pile of crispy, Parmesan-laced pommes frites alongside. Houston Steve, meanwhile, selected a dish of sweet potato ravioli in a brown butter-sage sauce with winter mushrooms. Those ravioli would have been good enough by themselves, but coated in their film of delicious, nutty brown butter, they were massively, ridiculously good.

We shared a bottle of 2008 Hall cabernet sauvignon. I could have been perfectly happy just sticking my face in the wineglass and luxuriating in its intoxicating aroma, but that’s not how I roll. No, I drank it. And it was mighty, mighty fine.

We did not stay for dessert and coffee, which had been arranged at a different venue. But everyone at the table - eleven people in all - raved about their meals. And for my part, I thought the quality-to-price ratio was quite reasonable.

Wow - a real grown-up restaurant in East Cobb! Maybe it’s a sign that our neighborhood is finally coming of age. For sure, it means fewer trips to Buckhead and midtown.

Now, going to Seed is a good thing.

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