Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Rathbun's Experience

This post is inexcusably overdue. My apologies to you two or three people who were anxiously (okay, I embellish) awaiting this post.

For a nice dinner, much in part to getting an exciting new job, we went out to dinner at Rathbun’s with another couple. Dan and I grabbed a glass of red wine each at the bar, as we arrived a few minutes early. Promptly upon Chuck and Allyson’s arrival, we were shown our table, in the middle of the dining area and within a direct line of sight from the open kitchen door.

Rathbun’s, the original of Kevin Rathbun’s triumvirate, is a fun, fresh and interesting eating experience. The dining area was a mix of long and short tables, with a crowd of interesting mix as well. I spotted fresh college graduates with money to burn as well as executives entertaining clients and out of town guests. They were all there to taste what Meredith Ford from the Atlanta Journal Constitution calls "modern American cuisine."

One contributor to Rathbun’s charm is a handwritten specials list, reprinted and passed out each day. Five to six of each of the following jumped off the modest looking photocopied piece of paper: small plates, raw plates, soups, big plates, side plates (i.e. vegetables), “second mortgage plates” (Chef Rathbun’s coy way of describing the most expensive and choicest plates), desserts and wines. The standard menu consists of the same categories, with many Rathbun’s regulars swearing by favorites.

I ordered a second glass of Rojo Spanish Granacha, Chuck a beer and Allyson a glass of white. We studied the specials and regular menu with a focused intensity, knowing our choices were important.

And so we settled on a few items, mixing and matching off the two menus.

Crab tart appetizer
Pork loin with porcini mushrooms
Strawberry cobbler with strawberry gelato “a la mode”

Soft shell crab
6-ounce fillet with mashed potatoes 
Square-shaped mango sorbet (2 scoops) with an oversized sesame seed wafer

Spring onion soup (cream based onion soup with lemon juice)
Scallops with country ham and cheese grits
Butterscotch crème brulee

Lamb medallions with diced pancetta and goat cheese
Rare ahi tuna with a spicy rub served atop stir fried Japanese eggplant
Cauliflower mash with truffle oil

My tuna melted in my mouth, and I savored every bite. The fillet was so lightly seared that it was nearly tar tar. I cut it thinly just to make it last longer. Dan's jumbo sea scallops were seared to perfection as well and made such a handsome pairing with the bed of savory grits. 

I can honestly say that the 2.5 hours we spent at Rathbun’s consisted of the best service, most delectable food and most interesting dining experience I’ve had to date. The waitstaff was knowledgeable and friendly – and nothing beats seeing the chef himself engaged in conversation with his sous chefs and staff. I do admit that I have miles to go in terms of investigating Atlanta’s culinary landscape, but my Rathbun’s experience is sure to stand the test of time.

A "thank you" goes out to Chuck and Allyson, too, for being such great table guests. We all tried one another's food, and I can honestly say that everything tasted wonderful. Kevin Rathbun and his team put an incredible amount of love and thought into each of the dishes.

A few words of wisdom for those interested in Rathbun’s: if you are by yourself or with one other diner, you’ll probably be fine without a reservation. If you’re deadset on a certain time or have a large number of diners to accommodate, you’ll probably want a reservation. On the Wednesday night we dined at Rathbun’s, the tables were full and the waitstaff was busy.

112 Krog St NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 524-8280

p.s. I've sworn to myself that I'll write these reviews in a more timely fashion moving forward, as my descriptions suffered from the time lapse!

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