Dinner at the Chef’s Table
vida organica ’09
Isn’t champagne just fantastic? All dinners should begin this way. Really. And this is how my recent wine-pairing dinner at Local Three began on a Friday night at the chef’s table in the kitchen. Since replacing the French Joel last December, Local Three has turned the remote spot in Northside into a destination. The restaurant is hidden among corporate offices and swanky apartments. Beyond revolving doors and a reception desk and down a cold, corporate-cliche hallway, there is dark-brown door. On the other side is an underground party.
The staff was kind enough to let us do 5 courses, instead of the usual 12, and looking back over the meal, I can’t imagine how I would have survived a 12-course wine-pairing dinner (read: nobody wants to be carried out of a restaurant because you blacked out on some port mid-dessert).
To anyone who has yet to dine in the kitchen of a top restaurant, it’s an experience. It’s private and intimate, and oddly enough, peaceful. Nobody is yelling or cursing. The chefs cook with certainty and the expediter does most of the talking.
It is my journalistic duty at this moment to declare my admiration for Chef Chris Hall. After the meal, he stopped by our table and what was, perhaps, supposed to be a quick meet and greet became a lengthy conversation that started with what Atlanta’s food scene is missing (“great neighborhood places where you can walk in wearing sandals”), jumped across to San Francisco and Alice Water’s Chez Panisse in California, passed by the molecular gastronomy over at Grant Achatz’s Alinea and ended with a business card. The man knows his food and everybody else’s it seems.
white grapefruit & avocado salad, podponics lettuce, ricotta salata, creamy basil dressing | vida organica ’09
The joy is in the bright dressing and the ensuing sparkle from the grapefruit and champagne.
pan seared chesapeake bay black bass fillet, timmy’s shrimp, chick peas, sausage, kale, carrots | 2011 chateau roustan
Whoever thinks fish is light should try this one. It’s a meaty, hearty dish that comes together nicely without much work.
braised beef short rib, ben’s “kimchi,” spice route glaze | st. cosme 2010
They had me at short rib. Ginger from the kimchi was a stalwart force for a sturdy hunk of meat. Tender and fantastic.
oven roasted maple leaf farms duck breast, brown butter sweet potato, treviso, vanilla roasted pear and hazelnut chutney
In trying to remember this dish, I can only say that there was a lot at play on one plate. And all of it worked (especially the crispy duck skin).
chiboust | standing stone chardonnay ice 2007
A mango mousse of sorts, the mild chiboust became robust with the sweet ice wine that took this dish right to the line of “too much” and “just right.”
And now for the ultimate question: how did this wine pairing dinner compare with my previous (and first) one at Empire State South? Strictly speaking, the wines at ESS were better but the main courses at Local Three (fish, short rib, duck breast) had much more finesse. Then again, ESS’s soft poached farm egg over crispy rice, thoughtful cheese plate and god-like flan outshined the salad and chiboust at Local Three.
Oh, hell. I don’t know. Both are wonderful, and both are doing this “refined Southern cooking” movement right by taking a regional cuisine beyond its meat and two persona.
Local Three Kitchen & Bar
3290 Northside Pkwy
Atlanta, GA 30327