Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Review: Farm to Table Dinner at The Glenwood

Last night the boyfriend and I had dinner at The Glenwood in East Atlanta, but it wasn't just a normal dinner. It was a reservation-only farm-to-table dinner in conjunction with Scharko Farms. For $35, the dinner included 5 courses, and for just $32 more, the boyfriend and I split a wine pairing. This meal was a deal! $35 for 5 good size courses? Already a great bargain, but add in the incredibly generous pours on the wine pairing, and this was bargain basement pricing. And of course the food was quite good, so it was money well spent.

The meal began with heirloom tomato water with cucumber basil-ice sorbet paired with St. Hillaire Brut, which someone informed us is the original sparkling wine pre-dating even champagne. I'd never had tomato water before, but it tasted much like a watery gazpacho, with a dominant basil flavor. It was incredibly light and made great use of the tomatoes and basil.

Next up was quail rillettes with field pea pistou paired with a Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay. This was one of the most successful dishes of the night. The quail was topped with a crouton that provided a great crunch, and the pistou (essentially a French take on pesto) perfectly complemented the meat and had a compelling heartiness to it, which is hard for vegetables to do.

Next came salmon on polenta, rattlesnake beans, and crispy pork belly paired with a Foris Pinot Noir. As a great lover of food, there are few things that I am loathe to eat, but unfortunately salmon is one of them. I knew this going into the night, but I figured for $35, I could afford to turn my nose up at one of the dishes. I gave the salmon a shot, and I'd assume that if I were to like salmon this would have been really enjoyable (the boyfriend certainly cleared his plate), but this dish didn't convert me to salmon eating. The polenta and rattlesnake beans, which turned out to be pretty standard issue green beans, were fine but nothing to get excited about. I wouldn't normally think of salmon and pork belly together, but I enjoyed the small chunk of pork belly provided. It was crispy, fatty, and flavorful, just like it's supposed to be.

The pinot was the first of the reds we were served. Alas, all three glasses of red we were served were too warm, so I got a strong alcohol taste with my initial sips rather than the complexities of the wine. I'm sure to save time last night they had the pairing bottles sitting out ready to pour, but the wine would have benefited from being cooler. Our half-pours were so generous (more like full glasses of wine really) so even if the wine was too warm, it was at least quite inexpensive.

The fourth course was venison loin with sweet corn pudding and arugula salad paired with a Rancho Zabaco Zinfandel. The venison was such a lovely deep purple color, and it was incredibly tender and had no discernible gaminess. The blackberries provided an explosion of flavor that paired perfectly with the meat. The corn pudding, although a very small portion, was sweet and satisfying. The Zinfandel fell prey to being too warm and didn't provide the juiciness I would have hoped for.

Last came dessert, which thankfully was quite light. It was a raspberry napoleon with lemon verbena cream. The cream was a bright lime green color, which made for an interesting neon plate. I'm assuming that color is natural, but it was a bit shocking. That said, it was a unique touch and was a new flavor that I enjoyed. The pineau rose it was served with, although too warm once again, was delicious and paired quite well with the raspberries. Since the boyfriend had to drive, I had dibs on his drink, and although my headache today would suggest that was a bad idea, I enjoyed every drop of it.

Not only was the meal quite good (and such a great value if I didn't already make that clear enough!), but the entire staff of the Glenwood was lovely and made sure our meal was enjoyable. Best of all, we were seated near the Scharko family themselves. Papa Scharko has a most excellent long white beard and wore suspenders - he couldn't have looked more like a farmer if he had driven a tractor to dinner! It was nice to see them enjoying Ryan Stewart's delicious preparations of their crops. Our waitress mentioned that the Glenwood will be having more such dinners, and we'll definitely keep an eye on them and return again.

Pros: creative use of farm-to-table ingredients, excellent value
Cons: overheated wine

The Glenwood
1263 Glenwood Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30316

The Glenwood on Urbanspoon

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