Thursday, November 4, 2010

P'Cheen Turns Five!

Surveying the carnage - Media dinner at P'cheen
Beloved Old Fourth Ward gastropub, P'cheen is turning five. In honor of that momentous occasion, they invited a slew of local  food dorks foodies (including moi) to dinner. If you're not familiar with P'cheen, it's a rather unique establishment for Atlanta - an ambitious gastropub that is NOT focused on Southern farm to table, although they do source locally. In the spirit of European gastropubs, the menu is eclectic and internationally inflected. Think curry trio, fish and chips, rissoto, and yes even BBQ.

House-made andouille
Mike's Bone Lick BBQ is served only on Monday nights, but fortunately for us, they whipped some up on a Tuesday. Ribs are succulent and full of smoky flavor, while pulled pork is served with a variety sauce options, so you're sated no matter what state your BBQ loyalty lies with. I'm a Carolina mustard fan, so I opted for that and only wished I didn't have to split my pulled pork sandwich with Mr. AT! House-made andouille also packed some nice heat.

Mike's Bone Lick BBQ
Always looking for a challenge, the kitchen now offers an appetizer, known only as "Just Trust Us." For $8 you give Chef Alex Friedman free reign to make whatever strikes his fancy. That's right, you don't know what you'll be getting, but they promise it will be delicious and creative, and apparently they rarely make the same thing twice. We sampled meatballs with a ghost pepper sauce, lamb chops, crab salad, and a crispy potato pancake.

Just Trust Us Appetizer - Meatballs and Ghost Pepper Sauce
Little did I know that ghost peppers are very, very hot. My mouth was sizzling for a while after that. This much heat is not for the faint of heart, so it's a bit of a risk for a mystery appetizer, but the other appetizers were distinctive in Atlanta's sea of fried green tomatoes and calamari. For me, lamb was the biggest hit from the appetizers. It was still nice and pink inside and was seasoned with a deft hand.

On Wednesday nights,  P'cheen is serving up a low country boil including fresh Alaskan snow crab legs, shrimp, crawfish, mussels, house-made andouille, red bliss potatoes and corn on the cob served with fresh, drawn butter and crusty baguette for $25. There's just something about a steaming, brightly colored platter of seafood that sets my heart aflutter. There is simply no way to eat this kind of food neatly, but that's half the fun. I've never actually eaten crawfish in the squeeze the tail, suck the head kind of way, but my fellow food writers were more than happy to give me tips on getting it right. Turns out I'm not a big crawfish fan, and I'm just not feeling the sucking seafoody air out of the head thing. Fortunately I am a fan of sweet crab and spicy shrimp! For $25, it is a great deal and is definitely enough for two or more to call dinner.

Wednesday Night Low Country Boil
Next up were some of their regular menu items. The bistro steak a la plancha con chimichurri was my personal favorite dish of the night. The steak was well-seasoned and perfectly grilled. I have a soft-spot for all things Argentine, and this was authentic and oh so yummy. I could definitely eat that again, especially for a reasonable $16.

There are a number of pasta dishes on the menu, and we sampled several. My personal fave? A hearty and warming bolognese, perfect for our newly cold weather!

Amazing that we could find room for dessert, but of course we did. I can't hear chocolate and peanut butter in the same sentence without swooning. Fortunately my fellow diners also dove in heartily, so I managed to get a few bites without going bananas! And yes, it was just as good as I'd hope for with a reasonably light whipped consistency rather than the denseness you might expect from peanut butter.

P'cheen has a dark lounge-like hangout vibe and is home to quirky art and eclectic music from DJ's playing tunes ranging from 80's to reggae to trip hop. Co-owner, Liverpool born Keiran Neely even spins on Saturday nights. So come for the intriguing food and cocktails/beer menu and stay for the vibe. It's the kind of place that breeds loyalty, and I can imagine it could be the kind of place where with time everyone really would know your name.

Happy birthday, P'cheen! It's good to know that Atlantans have a taste for something out of the Southern cookie cutter norm.

P.S. Ever wonder where they got that crazy name? P'cheen is Gaelic for moonshine!

*Full disclosure: Although my meal was comped, I always endeavor to offer my unbiased opinion of the experience!

P'cheen International Bistro and Pub on Urbanspoon



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