Every six months or so, the Grady College at the University of Georgia throws an alumni bash at a cool place in Atlanta. We try to attend these parties because they get us out of the house and usually to a place that is not “on our list”. Previous parties have taken us to Watershed and Smokebelly. Tonight’s fete, organized by the always-lovely Lauren Patrick of Pretty Southern, takes us to Buckhead and the Intercontinental Hotel, where Southern Art takes up much of the front of the hotel.
Walk in and you are greeted by the ham bar. Fancier places might call it a charcuterie, but here they call it what it is.
There’s no need to put lipstick on this pig. We are treated to some ham and a lovely plate of sausages.
There are many choices of ham.
Ours is a prosciutto and a country ham from Virginia. Both are salty and go well on the house-made saltine crackers. Care for some pickled veggies?
Finally, someone has come up with another use for okra. Even the carrots are pickled. We enjoy the sausage and pate tray.
You want to know what’s on here. The sausage is spicy andouille and the pate is duck. We do not take notes because we are distracted by the signature drink of the evening, the “Red and Black”.
Strawberry (the red), basil, bourbon and crushed peppercorns (the black) are mixed to make a very strong concoction. Props to the Southern Art mixologist, and although it’s probably not on their menu, certainly they will make you one at the bar.
Eventually, even Georgia Bulldogs stop partying, and as the party breaks up, we get a table with a view in the main dining room.
The room is beautiful, with Atlanta-centric murals on the ceiling. If you look closely, you can see the Fox Theater.
When you sit down for dinner, these guys show up at your table.
The biscuits are light and fluffy and we think we taste pecan flour in them. Spread some butter on the warm bread and your taste buds will thank you.
We have had enough of the ham bar at the pre-party, so we go straight for dinner. There are southern favorites on the menu like shrimp and grits and fried chicken. We go for the pan-seared Carolina trout.
This is only half a portion as we split the fish. It’s a generous serving considering the price and the fact that the restaurant is attached to a fancy-schmancy hotel. The fish is moist and we eat it skin and all. You can get a side order sampler, which gives you small tastings of three sides, along with cute little frying pans.
Check out those grits. No extra butter is needed. They are full of cheese and perhaps some of the creamiest ever made in a restaurant. The macaroni and cheese has a lot of love in it. It’s some of the best we have had in a long time. With all of the ham in the house, you won’t be surprised that the Brussels sprouts have bacon in them. They are a little smoky and a good veggie addition to the carb-filled side sampler. If you want bigger plates of sides, you can get them to share at your table.
We must be hungry because somehow there is room for dessert. Banana pudding pie, pecan pie or 12-layer red velvet cake? Our waiter says go for the pudding.
He’s right–it’s good. The ‘nilla wafers are baked into the crust. The “pudding” is the pie filling and the merengue is on top. It’s a nice take on a classic southern dessert.
The bottom line on Southern Art: Very enjoyable. It’s a gorgeous room and the food and service are excellent. They are pros here. We don’t love ham, but the ham bar takes it to the next level. Make sure you park in the Intercontinental lot and you can get your parking validated. Otherwise you can’t, and as we found out, parking is pretty pricey in Buckhead.