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Fraternizing

Posted Jul 01 2012 11:01pm
I spent this weekend in Atlanta visiting my brother. He was just initiated as a brother of Pi Kappa Phi and now it was my job to make sure he was in good hands. Also, I wanted to see a frat house 'cause I've only seen ones on television. And, lo and behold, it is exactly how it is in the movies. Empty red solo cups, crushed beer cans, coolers filled with mysterious cocktail concoctions, and super tall white boys either shirtless or decked out in J Crew.



Post-frat, we decided to get classied up and head out for dinner. I made a reservation at 4th & Swift , a restaurant in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta. It was pretty quiet when we got in (at 6:15pm for a 1,000 point table on Open Table, duh!) but it started getting busy after about 30 minutes. Dark wood, dim yellow lighting, and pillows lining the walls behind tables? It was almost too classy for us. Just kidding, there is no such thing.
We weren't too hungry so we decided to share a few plates. We ordered the shrimp ravioli for starters, which was served with an herb and heavy cream foam. It was definitely a lighter version of your run-of-the-mill ravioli. The pasta wasn't swimming in a cream sauce or marinara. It tasted like something Jamie Oliver would make for you from his garden. I'm also a huge fan of restaurants splitting your appetizer into separate plates. Super thoughtful.

We had polenta gnocchi and seared duck breast between the two of us. Though I'm almost always a huge fan of gnocchi, there is a chance of it having a fairly monotonous flavor. The texture doesn't help either after the first few bites. This was the case for our gnocchi. It was delicious, but the flavor left something to be desired after the initial spoonfuls. It was a great accompaniment, however, to the duck. It was seared well, but just a tad underdone--not too noticeable. The bed of bacon hash it was served with was awesome. The duck was also served with a small handful of blackberries to cut through the grease of the meat and the hash. Perfect.


Polenta gnocchi and the Heat Wave As for dessert... it is always our first instinct to grab something chocolatey but we opted for something a little different. There was something called a brown butter banana brulee tart. I'm guessing it was a brown butter pastry with a vanilla custard, topped with bruleed bananas. There was also a scoop of ice cream that was so good but we were so confused by the flavor. We weren't sure what it was and being forgetful, I didn't ask our server :( The silver lining to this horrible mistake? Making an excellent decision and ordering their seasonal cocktail: the heat wave (gin-based).

***

The following morning I was set on trying breakfast the Southern way. I couldn't think of a more Southern-style breakfast than biscuits and gravy. Let me just tell you that biscuits and gravy, to me, sounds like the most  boring dish ever. I'm also not a huge fan of either food so this was going to be an adventure. We were dining at J. Christopher's , which gets fairly busy during the mad brunch rush each morning. My breakfast was divine. The gravy was so flavorful and had pieces of sausage. The biscuits were soft but not soggy, and accompanied the hearty gravy perfectly. Of course, why not load this carb breakfast with more carbs by ordering it with a side of grits? Cheese grits. Yup, I am now a Southern belle, and I'm pretty sure this breakfast was my initiation rite. Keith ordered the 'Eggs Christopher,' which was the restaurant's take on an Egg's Benedict. The eggs were served with turkey bacon and ham and generously doused with hollandaise. Our morning was off to a good start.

After spending the day shopping at Lenox Square and watching Ted, we were ready to get refueled with some burgers. He took me to a pub close to his frat house called Cypress Street Pint & Plate . Of course I was going to try some sour beer, and the Anderson Valley Sour Stout was pretty good. Unfortunately, having tried so many, I was a little spoiled and now have such a high bar for sour beer. To cheer me up, though, I had a delicious farmhouse burger. This half-pound beef patty was served with caramelized onions and bacon jam. Yup, bacon jam. Have you heard of anything so beautiful in your life? My brother got the Maytag, which was your standard blue cheese burger. Both burgers were served with sweet potato fries that were slightly overdone, but delicious nonetheless. After all, I was here for burgers, not for world-class fries.

We couldn't leave this place without trying their desserts. Having a seemingly close affiliation with Sublime Doughnuts , we tried their Sublime doughnut dessert, which was a vanilla doughnut sliced in half and filled with a heavenly helping of vanilla ice cream. And this glorious treat is drizzled with caramel. All I'm going to say is that I will basically not be eating junk food for a while after this meal. The doughnut was perfect! It was fluffy on the inside and had a slightly crisp outer layer. Now I know that for my next Atlanta trip, I'll have to plan a trip to Sublime Doughnuts.

***

It has been a little over a month since I last saw my brother and it never stops being difficult to be apart from him. I don't think I realize how much fun we have hanging out together until I leave. Though I'm leaving Chicago this fall for New Orleans and leaving behind my friends, my parents, and Spencer, I'll have some brotherly love not too far away from me.

xo,
k.
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