Monday, April 4, 2011

BYOBakeshop Dinners

Bakeshop, a European style bakery in Midtown has one of Atlanta's top pastry chefs, Jonathan St. Hilaire, at the helm. Before opening Bakeshop last year Hilaire worked in some of NY and Atlanta's top kitchens, including NY's Bouley Bakery and Atlanta's Four Seasons and Woodfire Grill before becoming the corporate executive pastry chef for Concentrics.

Not content to just dish out breads and pastries, Bakeshop is now offering BYOBakeshop Dinners, monthly family-style dinners the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each month, created and prepared by Hilaire and Chef Susanne Vizethann. I must admit that lately it seems like everyone is jumping on the prix fixe bandwagon, so I've gotten a bit wary of checking out every dinner I hear about. Fortunately we snagged an invite to a Bakeshop media dinner, so I could put aside my jaded indifference for a night

Family style dinners can either be a perfect excuse to make new friends and perhaps get a wee bit rowdy or a dreadful bore during which you're subjected to conversations with someone you would normally avoid at all costs. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, though, right?

We were lucky to have a great group of people seated with us at Bakeshop's long farm tables, which definitely upped the fun quotient for our night. There's just something about dining with interesting strangers, dinner party style, that lends itself towards heavy drinking and boisterous conversation. My kind of night! And since it's BYOB, you are in control of just how much and what you drink.

Passed apps met us at the door. The tuna tartare was served in little crispy wanton cups and went down easy. While we were busy popping those like candy, Chef Suzanne kicked off the formal part of the evening, and everyone settled into their assigned table.

The first course was a Caesar salad, whose cornbread croutons stole the show. Seriously, everybody should put cornbread croutons on things. Why have I never had these sweet and crunchy little delights before?

I was especially excited for the main course because the siren call of fried blue cheese butter (get the recipe here) was almost too much to take. The meat was a perfect medium rare, and I even managed to snag a second of the crispy little buttery balls after everyone took a serving. In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen, that's biwinning!

For dessert we enjoyed wee little sticky toffee puddings with caramel cream. These little bite sized wonders were satisfyingly sweet without being cloying and were small enough to leave me pleasantly full but not stuffed.

A seat at Bakeshop's monthly dinners is $40 per person, including three dishes, corkage fee (beer, wine and liquor are all permitted), tax and gratuity. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., with the first course served at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the regularly scheduled dinners, private parties can be booked at any time.

You can certainly get dishes like this at many Atlanta restaurants, but what makes this experience so special is the communal nature of it. I've oft lamented that as an adult in Atlanta it's hard to meet new people, so I can really appreciate the joys of bonding over a shared meal. We talked business, blogging, dating. In fact, we barely shut our mouths to chew. Getting the opportunity to share good food and good conversation is money well spent in my book.

For more information or to make a reservation, email or call Conor Hubbard at 404.295.2476. Don't miss May's dinner - honey spiked buttermilk fried chicken!



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