Being from a small town, I know that the “farm to table” culture that has permeated the urban areas is only just beginning to trickle down to the entire population. Now that trickle down is evident in the embrace of local food culture at Marietta’s newest restaurant Chicken and the Egg, just a quick skip up the interstate from Atlanta.
Having dined before at Chef and Owner Marc Taft’s previous restaurant Pacci, I was really intrigued to hear he was starting a farmstead style spot in his own neighborhood. I met up with a friend recently and we ventured out to get a taste.
The restaurant, tucked away in a non-descript shopping center, would be easy to just drive by. (Tip: look for the McDonald’s with the retro NASA playground and then turn right!) But that’s where the non-descript part of our evening stopped. We walked into the warm, friendly space, full of nostalgic farm items and green-minded artwork. We were a bit early, so we decided to sit at the bar and enjoy a couple of cocktails.
The week had been a bit chilly for late summer which led me towards whiskey, so I decided to sip on the “Real Georgian Julep” ($9) that featured Bulleit Rye, Leopold Bros. Peach Whiskey, sugar and mint. My friend chose the “South of the Border” ($9) with Patron Reposado, Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka, watermelon juice and cilantro agave syrup with cilantro and basil chiffonade. While both cocktails were refreshing, I think my drink was the winner as my friend kept stealing my cocktail away when I wasn’t paying attention.
Our table was ready and we were escorted to the dining room. Open with a mix of large booths and farm-style tables, it was an active scene on this particular Friday night. We opted to start with Pork Belly Sliders with Napa Slaw ($8) which were just as decadent as we were hoping. We opted to next share the Seasonal Greens salad that included toasted walnuts, goat cheese fritters, caramelized sweet onions, peach preserve and champagne vinaigrette. The salad was deliciously fresh and the fritters added the perfect sweet bite to the acidity of the salad.
Chef Taft stopped by our table and let us know the salad wouldn’t remain on the menu much longer in the same fashion, since they will be changing the menu as the seasons change. We were glad we got this clean and crisp summer bite in before it ended.
Entrees arrived and we looked wide-eyed at our table. A beautiful cast iron skillet of Fried Chicken ($15) was before me, with sides of mac & cheese and braised greens. In front of my friend was a lovely dish of Short Ribs ($17) with smoked gouda au gratin potatoes, baby carrots, gremolata and tupelo honey. Crispy and delicious, the fried chicken was amazing as were the sides. The greens in particular held a great balance – not too sweet and not too vinegary. My friend was happy with his short ribs, particularly with the creamy au gratin potatoes that gave my mac and cheese a decent run for its cheesy money. I tried a bite and was happy I had ordered my pick instead, but that’s probably more a reflection on short ribs not being a personal favorite of mine.
Room for dessert? Hardly! But we made ourselves stop so we could sneak a bite or ten in. We made light work of the Praline Bread Pudding with caramel ice cream ($6). It harbored a taste to come of fall and it was the perfect comforting send-off to our meal. Our visit to Chicken and the Egg was a good reminder to venture outside Atlanta to discover more regional treasures.