Holeman & Finch – Atlanta
Heading to Atlanta cheer on my Shockers in the Final Four, I was in need of some great restaurant recommendations fast. Luckily, I remembered that I had recorded an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover” and one of the many unwatched episodes I refused to let my husband erase featured Atlanta. S0 the night before I flew out, sitting in my bedroom floor painting my nails, I hurriedly watched segments of the show.
The one place that stood out as my “must-visit” was called Holeman & Finch Public House. So our first open meal, off we went.
It was Sunday brunch – the only time H&F is open before 5pm. We showed up at 11:15 for an 11:30am opening and the line was wrapped around the building. Soon customers filed in and all 32 seats in the tight dining room were quickly filled. People had already snagged every bar seat by the time we got our name on the list and some even had burgers in front of them already.
Unfortunately, local ordinance prohibits the serving of alcohol before 12:30pm on Sundays. But the bartenders were eager to serve up a couple fantastic coffees, each brewed in its own small French press.
Our wait was about 45 minutes, just as the hostess had predicted. After being seated at a tiny table in a sun-filled window, we started with the Deviled Eggs Three Ways and the Chicken Liver Pate. The eggs were nice. The Pickle egg had lots of flavor and even a buttery aftertaste. The Ham and the Jalapeno were middle of the road compared to my cadre of homespun recipes for adventurous deviled eggs.
The standout order of the meal was definitely the Chicken Liver Pate. It came in a little ramekin with a shiny layer of apple cider jelly on top. It was accompanied by pickled green tomatoes, onions and red peppers as well as the most buttery toast I may have ever seen. The pate was creamy and smooth with an intensely rich flavor that nearly overwhelmed my friend when she sampled it. For me, it was ethereal! I created “the perfect bite” time and again with thick piles of pureed liver and tiny dollops of jelly.
While waiting in line, we had met a friendly Atlanta couple entertaining their friends from Minnesota. We talked local eats for quite some time and they recommended the pisco sour cocktail at H&F. They were right! The beautifully crafted Alto del Carmen Sour came out with a delicate foamy head resembling a meringue. It was topped with bitters and met the tongue with balance and freshness.
I also sampled one of the house cocktails called the Usual. Made with Amaro CioCiaro, grapefruit and champagne, it was an intriguing and light herbal concoction. I will be trying to recreate it at home.
There aren’t that many choices on the H&F brunch menu, but the menu is a work of art in itself. Of course, I decided it was necessary to try the three main dishes – which, by the way, barely fit on our tiny little table.
The Arnold was a southern take on eggs Benedict with a bacon cheddar biscuit as the base. Topped with poached eggs, hollandaise and THE smokiest bacon I have ever experienced, it was a winner. The menu listed sausage on the Arnold, which I think would stand up to the density of the biscuit a little better. But that bacon was phenomenal.
The Neutral Ground sandwich was reminiscent of a po’ boy. With fried oysters and shrimp, spicy mayo, and lettuce on ultra-buttered Texas toast, the messy meal was quite a delight.
As anticipated, the burger stole the show. It had a savory decadence that you don’t expect from such a traditional presentation. A simple bun, grilled onions, bread-n-butter pickles and two perfectly griddled patties made it a stand-out no matter how you take your burgers.
The french fries were outright amazing. So good, I’m not even sure how to describe them. They were soft and salty with just a touch of crispiness on the outside. And the house made ketchup alongside was probably the best I’ve tasted.