My take on our Top Chef tour

As Bryan mentioned in his post, Our tour of chefs who should have won Top Chef begins, we traveled to Atlanta last weekend to specifically visit Woodfire Grill, Kevin Gillespie’s restaurant (Top Chef finalist, season 6).

As luck would have it, we were bumped up to an earlier Delta flight and landed in time to grab a late-night dinner at Flip Burger, Richard Blais’ burger boutique (Top Chef finalist, season 4). The atmosphere at Flip is unique as were the individuals patronizing the restaurant. A great mix of 20-somethings all the way up to 50-somethings, grabbing a bite or beverage together at 10:15 on a Friday night. We sat at the bar since there was an opening and quickly received our menus.

Bryan wrote about his burger (the southern burger) in his previous post. I ordered the bacon and cheese burger (onion, lettuce, tomato, house-made pickles, Benton’s bacon, American cheese, ketchup) without the FLIP sauce. The intimidating-looking, yet friendly bartender said the FLIP sauce was like thousand island, which is not my cup of tea. The burger was quite tasty, although I’ll agree with Bryan’s opinion of the house-made pickles not being pickled enough for my taste. My shake is what made the meal. I ordered the spicy chocolate mole liquid nitrogen milkshake. The shake was thick and had a great cocoa flavor to it. But what made the shake was the topping of spicy peanuts. I could have that shake any time and be satisfied by it.

Now, on to my experience at Woodfire Grill. Kevin’s cooking as well as his demeanor on Top Chef continued to impress us throughout this past season. Week after week we looked forward to seeing the dishes Kevin put together and, as a meat-loving household, found ourselves salivating over the vegetarian dish he prepared for Natalie Portman.

As our trip date moved closer, I started checking the ever-changing dinner menu to see what local ingredients Kevin and his staff were using and our anticipation grew. Luckily, our experience at Woodfire Grill lived up to our expectations and then some.

We arrived early and were seated near the bar to wait for our reservation (a note to those who don’t want to wait for reservations, seating at the bar is saved for walk-ins; a couple walked in around 6 and were seated immediately at the bar). Bryan ordered the Bradley (wathen’s single barrel bourbon, ginger shrub peach bitters and soda water) and I ordered the Granny Orchard (hayman’s old tom gin, fresh granny apple juice, lemon bitters and soda water). The Granny Orchard was refreshing with a little bit of tartness and I enjoyed the fresh slice of granny smith apple and rosemary sprig garnish.

Before we were seated, we were lucky enough to get a picture with Chef Kevin, even though I was struck with shyness. Thankfully, Bryan was there to ask if we could get a picture. We were seated and as we perused the menu, we talked about the atmosphere and how much we enjoyed the wood paneling, the various seating arrangements and rustic touches, such as the copper-topped bar and old wood wine wracks used almost as decorative sconces, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in the bar and dining area.

I digress…on to the food. After our amuse-bouche of beet salad, I started with my first┬ácourse of cream of local cauliflower soup served with truffled cauliflower. ┬áThe soup was creamy with a smooth texture and seemed to have a hint of sour cream in it. The truffled cauliflower was crisp on the outside, providing a nice contrast to the soup.

My second course was heirloom pumpkin carnaroli risotto (local pumpkin puree, roasted vegetable jus, pecorino frica and quince). There wasn’t an overwhelming pumpkin flavor to the risotto – it was more of an earthy vegetable flavor, which was very pleasant. The risotto had a nice mouth feel as well. It was a delicious second course and has made me rethink how I make risotto (my “risotto” is made with orzo rather than rice).

My third course consisted of a wood grilled painted hills strip loin served with grilled baby romaine, parmesan and garlic fingerlings and charred lemon vinaigrette. My strip loin was delicious – it was a thick cut of beef and was cooked perfectly. It was simply seasoned, which let the beef speak for itself. The parmesan and garlic fingerlings were delicious, particularly the mix of parmesan, garlic and what appeared to be finely chopped chives. I could have had a plate of just the parmesan, garlic and chives and would have been happy. The grilled romaine had an interesting flavor and grilling it really brought out the earthy flavor of the lettuce. Each element was delicious on its own, but was made even better when they were all combined into one bite. I had tried to save room for my third course by not eating all of my first and second, but I had trouble finishing my strip loin and felt guilty for leaving some on my plate.

With that said, I “forced” myself to order a dessert. The banana cake had my name on it as I’d been eyeing it for weeks online. The banana cake consisted of brown sugar bacon buttercream, fried banana ice cream, salted caramel and banana chips. The cake was moist and between the layers was the heavenly brown sugar bacon buttercream. This melted in my mouth and felt and tasted sinful. The ice cream and salted caramel were delicious as well, and the crunchy little banana chips were a great finishing touch. As I told our waiter, I would have licked the plate clean if I’d been at home. And trust me, I was tempted to do so at the restaurant.

Yes, I did chicken out and not taste Bryan’s sweetbreads. I do regret it a bit since he’s been raving about them since they touched his lips last week; however, I told him I would try them if we see them this summer at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen (our honeymoon trip).

I look forward to our next trip to Atlanta as well as continuing our Top Chef tour.

Related posts:

  1. Our tour of chefs who should have won Top Chef begins
  2. Hawaiian Favorites – Ninniku-Ya
  3. Mac ‘n cheese with bacon
  4. Bacon is a vegetable
  5. A night at Bellisio’s…

About the Author

PR gal and foodie. Half of HouseoFoodies and half of Spruce Phoenix, a real estate investment company.