After 20-odd years of dining out nearly every day of the week, I've grown accustomed to eating a lot of mediocre food. I certainly know where to find it: Go to any glitzy restaurant that belongs in a theme park and, no matter who the chef is, you'll be served mediocre food that is often disguised by clever presentation.
Two weeks ago, bucking that trend, I visited kinky Repast for an exceptional meal. Last week, I dined several times at the The Globe (75 Fifth St., 404-541-1487), which, like Repast, is more about the chef's work than a glamorous atmosphere.
As it happens, though, the Globe is one of our city's best-looking restaurants. It was opened a couple of years ago by Govantez Lowndes, who earlier operated the sexy Commune. The Globe is completely free of overstatement and cliché. The space ideally fits its location in Technology Square, which adjoins the Georgia Tech campus. It is as sleek as an Apple computer but includes a library with Wi-Fi and plenty of books to browse.
The restaurant's website calls the look "public institution chic," and that's a great description. Imagine a school room with magnolia walls and comfy but simple seating in sage, gray and olive colors. Imagine, too, that this school urged you to stare out its big windows and offered you some privacy behind sheer curtains. It's a perfect place for culinary reverie.
The chef is Joshua Perkins, who made a name for himself at Brasserie le Coze (R.I.P.) before becoming the Globe's opening chef. Perkins' cuisine is a panglobal fusion. There's nothing harsh, pretentious or weird in his fusion of techniques and flavors. For example, an entree of sliced duck breast, cooked medium-rare, is flavored with tandoori spices and served with a rosewater-rinsed dried fruit salad. Spiced yogurt, also an allusion to Indian cuisine, is on the side.
Or there's the Caprese salad. First, give Perkins props for not using mealy, out-of-season tomatoes. Instead he halves good cherry tomatoes and mixes in scoops of watermelon the same size as the tomatoes. A slab of bufala mozzarella, dusted with pepper, is on the plate, too. Where's the basil? Perkins practices a little molecular gastronomy by putting scoops of basil sorbet on the plate. It works very well. Just a touch of the sorbet on a tomato blooms with flavor.
Sorbet reappears in a mint flavor in a chilled cucumber soup. Honestly, after sampling much of the menu, this dish was the only disappointment. The mint completely overwhelmed the cucumber.
Latin flavors are spun in brilliantly kinky fashion, too. Dates are stuffed with chorizo, wrapped in smoked bacon and served with a piquillo-tomato sauce. Carne asada is garnished with arugula, slices of red radish and Cabrales blue cheese from Spain. Croquettes of salt cod and potato are paired with a pleasantly sour tomatillo sauce.
Lunchtime salads are fabulous. One made with seared lamb doesn't have a single leaf of lettuce in it. It's all mint, Italian parsley, celery, pine nuts and juicy lamb slices in a cumin vinaigrette. The salade Niçoise includes fresh, seared tuna rather than the usual canned fish. I don't usually like this salad made with fresh tuna, but it is of such high quality at the Globe, I'll take it. The salad, besides lettuce, also includes haricots verts, olives, capers and tomatoes.
Some entrees, available at lunch and dinner, are surefire bets. The herb-roasted organic chicken with panzanella salad and potato puree with garlic jus is the best such dish in the city – as it was at Brasserie le Coze where Perkins also cooked it. The flatiron steak and frites is also always good.
The duck, among my favorites at the Globe, is only available at night. Another good choice at lunch or dinner is the pan-roasted halibut with leek tortelloni, served over fresh green peas.
Desserts are every bit as good as the rest of the menu. My longtime favorite here has been the rum-glazed pineapple upside-down cake, but you should not fail to order a fresh peach tart, if available. The peaches are locally grown and taste like the ones I used to eat as a kid – sweet, almost stinging, juicy but not watery. A lemon tart with blueberry jam is also a winner, as is pound cake with local strawberries and crème fraiche.
The Globe offers special events throughout the week, including wine tastings on Tuesdays and films on Wednesday nights.
Here and there
The Big Gay Supper Club has two events planned next month. The club will hold its first brunch at Tap at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5. Cost is $15 for three courses. The regular dinner will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Trois. Cost is $35 for four courses. To make a reservation, call 404-668-5649 or visit the website, www.biggaysupperclub.com. ...
Gillian and Vaughan Merlyn write this about Guru Indian Restaurant (555 S. Atlanta St., Roswell):
"We have eaten three times now at this new Indian restaurant in Founders Square in historic Roswell. It is wonderful. There is nothing new-age, molecular, big-hair or any other clever angle to it. It's a straight-ahead Indian restaurant which just happens to have a genius in the kitchen.
"We live in Roswell and have waited patiently many years for a decent local Indian restaurant up to the standard of the ones we used to frequent in our native U.K. We have been rewarded in spades. However, we live in fear that Guru will disappear because it is in a quiet corner of Roswell and so far, even quieter in terms of patronage." ...
Speaking of Indian food, I visited The Standard on Memorial Drive in Grant Park to try its regular Monday-night curry special last week. The chef is cooking the Charleston version of chicken curry called "Country Captain," and it is a delicious bargain. We were served green-pea dal, mango chutney and white rice with it.
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