Blue crab fritter at Bacchanalia
In many ways this is the OG of Atlanta fine-dining dishes. Bacchanalia's menu is continually changing, and this is one of the few constants. It's light and refreshing while also being rich and decadent — a pile of crab over citrus with hints of vanilla, and Thai pepper that just touches on spicy. Slices of avocado add rich buttery texture. A dish that hits every point and counterpoint on the palate while remaining totally harmonious. $22. 1198 Howell Road. 404-365-0410. www.starprovisions.com.
Bone marrow at Rathbun's
Three fat marrow bones are accompanied by simple grilled bread and a spoon of high quality salt. Scoop out the wobbly marrow and slather its warm, musky, meaty, fatty funk onto the bread and into your gullet. Many in town attempt marrow, only Rathbun's truly understands it. 112 Krog St., Suite R. 404-524-8280. www.rathbunsrestaurant.com.
Chicken liver pâté at La Fourchette
This lovely quenelle of liver pâté could easily be mistaken upon first look as a scoop of chocolate ice cream; it has all the gloss and appeal of dessert. But it's better than dessert, rich and decadent, especially when paired with the riotous rhubarb and ginger preserve that's swept across the plate like a tropical brushstroke. $12. 3133 Piedmont Road. 404-748-1229. www.lafourchetteatlanta.com.
Crawfish pies at Watershed
Swampy decadence. That's what the filling of these empanada-shaped pies feel like; an okra-heavy, creamy jumble of crawfish funk that gushes out of its buttery shell all piping-hot and rich beyond reason. $9. 406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-378-4900. www.watershedrestaurant.com.
Dolmeh at Sufi's
It's the pomegranate that makes this dish — a shock of sweet/tart that permeates the rice, split peas and grape leaf wrap. The copious tarragon helps the allure, as does the base of cooling yogurt. But the pomegranate will keep you coming back. $6. 1814 Peachtree St. 404-888-9699. www.sufisatlanta.com.
Farm egg in celery cream at Miller Union
Who knew we were so nostalgic for that soft egg and toast combination we all ate as kids? This dish evokes childhood, but has a decidedly mature slant. Celery is turned silken by blending it into cream, and then a single egg is baked into the mixture. Spread on grilled bread it whispers subtle decadence. $9. 999 Brady Ave. 678-733-8550. www.millerunion.com.
Fried chicken hearts with egg in a basket at the Shed at Glenwood
If you've succumbed to the siren call of chicken livers, the next stop on your offal journey is chicken hearts. Here, they come crispily pan-fried. Springier and less alkaline tasting than their livery counterparts, the hearts pack pure concentrated dark-meat flavor. The accompanying "egg in a basket" — that awesome breakfast treat of an egg fried into a hole cut in the center of a piece of bread — adds a glimmer of childhood delight to this already delightfully grown-up dish. $10. 475 Bill Kennedy Way. 404-835-4363. www.theshedatglenwood.com.
Fried goat cheese at Ecco
Fried goat cheese has been a somewhat hackneyed trick for decades now, but Ecco gets it just right with a feather-light batter and goat cheese balls small enough to become warmed and gushy all the way though. A drizzle of honey on top counteracts the cheesy tang. The crowning glory is a coarse sprinkle of cracked black pepper. It adds a wicked bite to this decadent dish that is basically gourmet, elegant, sexy fair food. $7. 40 Seventh St. 404-347-9555. www.ecco-atlanta.com.
Fried mushrooms at Fritti
Yes, white truffle oil has run its course, but the funghi fritti here spares it total extinction. Meaty crimini and portobello mushrooms are fried in a light coating of rice-flour batter. The highly redolent oil, sparely used, is a perfect complement. All the thrill of shroomery without the psychedelic hangover. $8. 309 N. Highland Ave. 404-880-9559. www.sottosottorestaurant.com.
Lamb shoulder over spiced lentils at Local Three
A hunk of juicy lamb sits atop lentils with enough ginger in them to cause a prickle of spice on the tongue. A drizzle of yogurt cools and softens it all. The dish is both unexpected and comforting, a rare combination. $11. 3290 Northside Parkway. 404-968-2700. www.localthree.com.
Pork rillettes at Abattoir
How do you make pork creamy? By curing it and mooshing it in its own fat, of course! At Abattoir, said creamy, salty porky spread is served on grilled bread with tiny hard-boiled quail eggs for a naughty take on breakfast that's more appropriate for gobbling with cocktails. $9. 1170 Howell Mill Road. 404-892-3335. www.starprovisions.com.
Steak tartar at Kevin Rathbun Steak
There's something magical that happens with the best steak tartar, an alchemy that turns high-quality raw beef into a creamy wonder. Punctuated by shallots and capers, and topped with a gooey raw egg yolk, this paragon of protein is pure pleasure. $14.95. 154 Krog St. 404-524-5600. www.kevinrathbunsteak.com.
Wood-grilled octopus at Kyma
Remarkably tender, streaked with smoky grill marks and served with a salad of pickled red onions and red-wine vinaigrette, this creature from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea transforms the squeamish into octo-addicts. $10. 3085 Piedmont Road. 404-262-0702. www.buckheadrestaurants.com/kyma.
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