Monday, June 15, 2009

Restaurant Preview: Abattoir

There are some meals that go by in a blur. More often than not, this sort of meal is enjoyed with a crowd and several adult beverages. It's not that you're drunk, it's just that you're very very hungry, the food looks oh so good, and if you don't move fast one of your voracious friends is going to scarf down your share.

I had just such a meal at Abattoir recently. To most Atlantans the opening of Abattoir might have gone unnoticed, but to hardcore foodies, particularly those fond of snout to tail eating, Abattoir is a rather exciting experiment. Can Atlanta sustain a rather adventurous shrine to offal? I'd like to think yes, but the premature demise of cutting edge restaurants like Blais make me wonder if Atlantans don't like their food too weird.

Abattoir means slaughterhouse in French, so they're taking their meat focus pretty seriously. Its pseudo-industrial West Midtown setting is a bit off the beaten path for many, but these chefs have a knack for making awkward locations work for them. The atmosphere is industrial chic, and although on the Saturday night we visited it wasn't too crowded, I imagine once they really get going, it could get quite loud in there.

Sure, Abattoir has plenty for the squeamish carnivore to eat - springer mountain chicken, slow roasted pork, and a beef and pork burger, But what's really got people excited is that Quatrano and Harrison, of Bacchanalia and Floataway fame, are trying their hand at more unusual meats, including sweetbreads and lamb liver fritter. Everything these chefs touch is gold - witness people's willingness to shell out big bucks for haute cuisine at Bacchanalia or even $14 for a sandwich (a frickin' amazing sandwich thankyouverymuch) at Star Provisions.

It's too soon to pass judgement on Abattoir, but let me say this. When the food arrived for our table of 7, the feed frenzy that ensued was epic. Our chichirones, pickled Georgia white shrimp, lamb liver fritters, slow roasted pork, crispy ceci peas, and burgers were gone so fast, I'm not sure I even knew what I was eating most of the time. Suffice to to say that everything was quite tasty, even if no one dish stood out enough to pause the face-stuffing. In fact it was only the maple bacon beignets that were eaten slowly enough to admire and savor. Bacon makes everything better, even dessert.

Based on what I experienced, I'd say definitely check out the lamb liver fritters - sounds like something that will be gross, but is indeed quite yummy and lacks any offensive gamey flavor. The jarred shrimp is a unique presentation and also a success.

All in all, I thought Abattoir was an exciting addition to the restaurant scene. The food is challenging but still approachable. The prices are surprisingly low compared to their other restaurants, and the atmosphere is sexy enough to make for a great night out. Let's hope that enough people are willing to push their dining boundaries to keep it afloat!

Abattoir Chophouse on Urbanspoon



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