was a hallowed evening in midtown, Atlantas booming business and
residential district that is fast becoming an epicenter for discerning
diners. For ten years now, South City Kitchen has served some of the regions
most imaginative cuisine while staying true to its Southern roots. And,
there could be no more appropriate way to honor this occasion than gathering
chefs from three other cities to join the acclaimed kitchen staff at South
City for a collaborative feast. With three out of town celebrity chefs
teaming with South Citys legendary Chef Jay Swift, the expectations
doeuvres ranged from Southern fried quail to shrimp and corn fritters
and were served with generous pourings of Byron Pinot Blanc, a superb
aperitif. The room was packed with familiar faces in the Atlanta dining
scene and I enjoyed a pleasant chat with one of Atlantas genuine
wine authorities, Michael Venezia. We quickly concurred that the evening
was off to a championship start.
had the best seat in the house alongside Melissa Libby, one of our towns
most respected public relations CEOs and her gifted associate, Nicole
Hunnicutt accompanied by her husband Robert, along with Stephanie Oswald,
the editor of Atlanta-based TravelGirl magazine. We sat down with other
notable guests just in time for the first course, a culinary masterpiece
from the creative talent of Chef Tom Condron, whose reputation at Mimosa
Grill in Charlotte continues to grow. His combination of fried green tomatoes
and crispy oysters along with crawfish remoulade and organic watercress
salad became even more memorable with the noble white wine, Arrowood Viognier.
A lesser assemblage would have been quite satisfied, but there was a discernable
undercurrent of craving for more. Chef Robert Carter, who captains the
kitchen at Charlestons renowned Peninsula Grill, knows how to satisfy
hungry and sophisticated diners. His seared jumbo sea scallops with cheddar
grits, followed by fritter and truffled corn caulis was magnified by a
fruity Robert Mondavi Chardonnay. The evening was now soaring and the
crowds good-natured, concentrated chatter increased by decibels.
were nudged into the next course as the Byron Neilson Vineyard
Pinot Noir was poured. Almost simultaneously, roast pork accompanied by
stir-fried beans, collard greens and homemade Chow Chow was served. This
Deep South combination came from the master Birmingham chef, Chris Hastings
of the highly regarded Hot and Hot Fish Club.
Then, it was our hometown heros turn to do some culinary magic.
Chef Jay Swift, a genuine celebrity cook, brought out one of the evenings
best-received dishes, breast of duckling with duck bacon, butternut squash
brioche pudding, with glazed seasonal vegetables and a cider gravy. Washing
this down with the IO Ryan Road, a remarkable Rhone-style
red, produced some rather audible pleasure-inspired moans.
Scarborough, South City Kitchens accomplished pastry Chef, had the
stage to himself as the evenings zenith approached. His spectacular
sweet potato napoleon with caramelized walnuts in a raisin sherry reduction
begged for a sweet wine. The late harvest Robert Mondavi Boytrititis Sauvignon
Blanc served as an example of just how wonderful these wine gems are and
why they are increasing in popularity.
Each bite and every sip seemed to be a tribute to all that South City
Kitchen has become. It is a midtown gourmet palace, the unofficial headquarters
of our fast developing regional cuisine. So many offerings that evening
reminded me of how important our food and wine culture is to not only
denizens but also the country as a whole. What we prepare and consume
tells the world about us. After all, its not very different from
our acclaimed indigenous music and art.
food had a distinct southern accent. The exceptional wines were from elsewhere.
The coming together metaphorically said that we are comfortablyhappy as
Southerners and Americans. We are important parts of the whole.
The evening mirrored Atlantas greatness, and displayed some of the
admirable reasons why it is the regions cultural center.
of the images on this page are property of the South City Kitchen and/or
its owners and are used with permission.)
ACCOLADES FOR THE RESTAURANT:
Distinguished Restaurant of North America (DiRoNA) - 2002-2003
"Award of Excellence" - Wine Spectator Magazine, 1998-1999,
"If this is the direction that new Southern cooking is taking,
it's on the right track" - New York Times
"South City Kitchen became a mecca for low country cooking
the minute it opened in 1993" - Where Magazine
Best Restaurant in Midtown- Atlanta Magazine 1999-2000