Fine dining usually requires the following:
3) An occassion for which to spend (1) and invite (2).
Tonight’s (3) was celebrating my excting non-food related news from earlier in the week. Tonight’s (2) was, of course, Lauren. And tonight’s (1) was generously donated–without their knoweldge, really–by mom and dad. I mean, I’m sure they’d approve: how often does one have a (3) to celebrate? It was all (4) a good cause.
Originally, I had suggested Bacchanalia because that’s one of Atlanta’s top restaurants, if not the very top. But they were booked. And I was kind of glad: when I was there with my parents several years ago, we were a bit underwhelmed.
Then I tried Bacchanalia’s sister restaurant, The Floataway Cafe, which is surely one of my favorite Atlanta fine dining spots. They were booked too.
Frustrated, I turned to the John Kessler page at the Access Atlanta website and read through his reviews. It was difficult because you couldn’t search by rating; so I had to read through a bunch of places I never heard of, only to find Kessler’s disapproval. Then I stumbled upon Iris–a place I had been to one time before and enjoyed–and decided it was the perfect spot to go. Not too dressy, not too formal, but quality 2-star food. In East Atlanta.
Have I told you about East Atlanta yet? It’s like Atlanta’s answer to Greenwich Village. Only much, much smaller. And near a prison.
Lauren and I gussied ourselves up. Well, first, she wanted my fashion approval. She came into my room with a really funky, shiny orange skirt and a funky, black and white top.
“What do you think?” she said.
“Love the skirt,” I said. “Love the top. But they don’t go together.”
Wounded, she exited and returned, now with a denim skirt.
“Better,” I said. “Anything else?”
Hissing, she exited once more and returned with a black skirt.
“Excellent!” I said.
“Ladeeda,” she replied.
I, of course, looked perfect in my colorful button down shirt and snazzy jeans. We boarded my car and began the journey out east. We listened to my newly purchased “Purple Rain” CD.
“Dig if you will the picture,” sings Prince, “of you and I engaged in a kiss.”
“I dig it,” says Lauren, and begins making out with the CD case.
Finally, we arrive at Iris in funky East Atlanta. The valet takes our keys and we make our way to the door.
“Table for two,” I say. “Under Gourmet. Amateur.”
“Ah, very good sir,” says the host. “Right this way.”
He leads us to a lovely area outside:
We look at our menus:
We order wine:
[“Lauren,” I yell just now. “What kind of wine did we have at dinner?” She yells from the other room:
“Starts with a C… C-L-E-V-N-E?” Hmmm. “OK!” I say. “That’ll do!”]
The waiter suggests an appetizer of Kobe beef with a Mongolian BBQ sauce. “So tender, it’ll fall off the bone.” We order it:
So tender it falls off the bone. “Mmm,” says Lauren. “This is delicious.”
Next, I indulged and ordered a lobster bisque while Lauren went for the less indulgent salad.
I actually thought the lobster bisque was wonderful. Usually it’s so creamy that you feel like you’re drinking from an udder. This one was perfect. With tons of flavor. Among the best I’ve ever had.
And now for the entrees. The waiter warned me. I didn’t heed his advice. You see, on the menu were many entrees I was eager to try. The one that seemed most daring, most exciting for someone who has culinary ambitions beyond steak and potatoes, was the Venison Osso Bucco.
“It’s great,” said the waiter, “but really heavy for this kind of weather.”
Fool! I thought. Nothing’s too heavy for moi! But damn, he was right.
It was delicious but so so rich and so so heavy. I loved all the condiments: there was a side of pineapple / apple compote. And sweet potato crisps. And a little fork to eat the marrow. I didn’t really eat the marrow because I was so full.
But I ate the whole thing, otherwise. “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” I said.
Lauren wisely chose the free-form ravioli with halibut.
If it doesn’t look like ravioli, that’s because it’s not. It’s free form. But Lauren loved it.
And, for whatever reason, it seemed like a good idea to get dessert. I don’t know how I did it, but I did it.
Apple crisp. Vanilla ice cream. Delicious. But deadly.
I tumbled out of my chair face down on the ground. Lauren got my feet, the waiter got my head.
“Roll him,” instructed Lauren.
They rolled me to the car.
“Fork lift!” yelled the waiter.
A large crane descended.
“Up she goes!” he laughed.
“I’m a he,” I mumbled.
“Yes you are,” said Lauren, taking the keys.
“Thank you,” she told the waiter.
She closed both doors and started the car.
“Even doves have pride,” instructed Prince.
“I’m sooo full,” I said.
“Next time,” said Lauren, “listen to the waiter.”