Monday, October 11, 2010

Holeman & Finch

Holeman & Finch Public House has been generating buzz ever since it opened in Atlanta about a year ago. National magazines from Food & Wine to GQ rave about it. Every description I’ve read painted a picture of a really cool place: A no-pretense atmosphere with incredible selection of meats and cheeses, creative drinks, and amazing burgers. It sounded like a great place to take my fiancĂ©, so I did. 

My first impression of this restaurant: Weird

Atmosphere: The restaurant is tiny and seating is assigned on a first-come-first-served basis. H&F doesn’t take reservations, so if you hate waiting to sit down, get there early. The atmosphere is very chill, yet trendy, with tall, dark wooden booths in the dining room mixed with industrial metal and wood furniture by the bar. 

Food: Let me be clear—the H&F menu is not for the faint of heart (or stomach). The menu slightly resembles that of a tapas restaurant, in the sense that it has a large variety of dishes that come in small portions. It’s separated into four sections: Meat, farm, parts, and plates. If you’re brave, go for the parts section to try items like duck hearts, pan-fried veal brains, gratin of marrow, or lamb fries (more commonly known as testicles). Even the meat section was intimidating: Pig ears and beef tongue? Our server swore both were amazing, but we passed. 

Not feeling brave at all this past weekend, the fiancĂ© and I stuck to the plates section. We started with a selection of local cheeses—all three were absolutely outstanding—and moved on to the pork belly, spicy shrimp boil, and pasta carbonara. The carbonara dish was by far my favorite (and, sadly, the safest) choice—the pasta was home-made and cooked to perfection. However, I admit—every single dish we tried was beyond delicious. The pork belly came with buttered lady peas, which were to die for, and the shrimp were cooked in the most flavorful sauce that came with home-made bread for dipping. 

Drinks: To say the drinks were strange is an understatement. I expected sophisticated ingredients and exotic mixers. Instead, I could barely pronounce some the ingredients that went into these concoctions, let alone knew what they actually meant. This made choosing a drink very difficult. I settled on one called the Sawmill—a mixture of gin, aquavit, allspice dram, and lime. It was ok. 

Burgers: Every weeknight at 10pm sharp, the chef prepares precisely 24 handcrafted burgers. I’m talking home-made buns, hand-cut fries, and home-made ketchup. I’ve never tried one, but I hear these burgers make you salivate. Some nights, they sell out in under a minute. Hint: Come no later than 9:30 p.m. if you want to secure a seat and a late-night burger.  

THE VERDICT: You must go here at least once during your time in Atlanta. H&F makes their meat and bread in-house and uses the freshest ingredients—and you can clearly tell the difference in the way their dishes taste. Sure, some of the menu choices aren’t the most appetizing, but you can be sure anything you order will taste amazing.