Saturday, June 16, 2012

Travelogue: The South, the Spence, and the Super Chef

Two consequences come from having the job that I have.  The first is that I'm never home so time with friends is hard to come by.  The second is that I never have any food in my refrigerator (excluding the pint of Ben and Jerry's that has scrawled over it "break in case of emergency", and to be frank, eating a pint of ice cream for dinner sounds like a terrible idea).  In vein of killing two birds with one stone, my friend Patricia and I had some much needed girl time at the Richard Blais' new restaurant in Tech Square, The Spence.

Having spent the last five years at Tech, I've seen that space go from vacant to failed ritzy restaurant to even more failed Parking and Transportation office space.  Thus, it came as a surprise to me that another ritzy-looking restaurant was setting up shop last week when I drove by campus.  However, when I found out it was the great Top Chef champion and Atlanta food god Richard Blais at the helm, my skepticism subsided.  If the name doesn't sound familiar, Blais was responsible for bringing high-class fast food to Atlanta with Flip Burger and HD-1.  Somewhere on the Internet, there's a food review I wrote from 4 years ago where he brought great joy to my mouth (pun intended) and tastebuds.  Most notably, Blais placed second in Bravo's Top Chef and won Top Chef All-Stars in the two out of the nine seasons I actually paid attention to.  If anyone could turn that space into something successful, it ought to be him.

Top:  Open kitchen at The Spence; Bottom Left:  Sample of the menu; Bottom Right:  The Fairbanks Fizz and Left-Handed Hummingbird.

Predictably, the place was packed when we got there, so we resigned to sitting at the bar, which was more like community tables and probably more entertaining than getting a table.  Like the lovely southern ladies that we are, we ordered two cocktails -- The Fairbanks Fizz (gin-based with flower water and lemon lime) and the Left-Handed Hummingbird (tequila-based mixed with herbs and topped off with a basil icecube).   The Hummingbird was strong and packed a punch that you can only get from good tequila, and the Fizz was a light and fruity ending to balance out the tequila. Upon the recommendation of the bartender, I ordered the suckling pig with fingerling potatoes.  I'm not the biggest fan of pork, so the dish didn't do much to change my feelings.  Patricia's "Juicy Lucy" burger however, dripped in juicy deliciousness, and the crisp steak frites were nicely seasoned.  Above all else, Blais knows how to make a good burger and a great cocktail.

The prices make it a little bit on the upper levels of expensive for the average college student, but it's  a great place to take mommy and daddy to and make them pay for it.  The night, of course, would not have been complete without an amazing brush with the food god himself.  Unfortunately, Blais wasn't at the restaurant, BUT...

Continue to find out what happened!  Click that next page!  You know you want to...

Richard Blais responded to my tweet?!  After hyperventilating for about a good 5 minutes and figuring out if it was really him, I must say I have a new level of respect for Twitter.  As a former Twitter skeptic, I have to say, "THAT IS AWESOME!" Now, I feel the need to apologize to Twitter:

Dear Twitter, everything I said about you and your pointlessness before, I hereby retract now. Sincerely, Vivian W. Fan.

Now I can cross another name off my list of Bravo-lebrities that I want to meet.  Andy Cohen, I swear on Kim Zolciak's wigs, you are next.

Last, but not least, shout-out to my girl Patricia for wearing a gorgeous purple tie-dye maxi dress to dinner, unlike me who rolled out of bed and threw on a sundress and some shoes that didn't match.  Thanks for reminding me to look fabulous all the time.  Am I right?

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