I love it when I find a pot of gold in this city, and thanks to my husband's navigation, Friday night was a treasure hunt that did not fall short.
Pre-baby, JohnnyMac and I dined out four or more times per week. Atlanta is a great city offering a vast sampling of culinary delights and cultural cuisine. We like great food experiences. Our preference would be "solid" over merely "new and hip" and we are adverse to simple passing trends.
Since our schedule has changed magnificently since we had a baby, all the more reason to make it count when we do dine out. Overall, we like the total dining package of great food, interesting presentation (and some eclectic food pairings), great wine list, great service, and a stylish place to sit and take it all in. Verbal buzz in this city can be as influential in this town as the most well crafted marketing campaign. I love it when I can share great information, and after dining at Serpas on Friday night, I have great news to share.
Serpas True Food, the eponymous effort of Scott Serpas, a Louisiana native, sits in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta. I neglected to read a single review prior to our initial visit. Good for me. I wanted to take it all in and decide for myself.
We met Scott Serpas years ago when he was the head chef at Two Urban Licks, another well known and popular Atlanta restaurant. We met him because he was walking throughout the tables greeting patrons and engaging them in discussions relevant to the restaurant. Other chefs do this, I know. But Scott Serpas was natural, outgoing and totally in his element. We had a great conversation with him about that evening's specials and his cultural Louisiana influence on the food.. He still visits patrons and tables as we witnessed Friday night, and it is a nice reflection of his new place.
Housed in an old cotton storage factory, the restaurant is less about surface impression and more about making you feel right at home. Exposed brick, filled with cool decor including a huge wall covering of cotton blossoms, creates a very relaxed vibe which you may not always perceive when a new restaurant opens. Atlanta can tend to be heavy on trends and some new joints focus on glitz rather than staying power. Hence why certain addresses have housed more than four or five restaurants in the past ten years.
As you enter the restaurant, a cozy bar sits to the right. Excellent choices for cocktails including one that will be my new summer love affair. Our bartender, Johnny, is both a culinary school graduate and certified mixologist. I asked him how to make Margarita mixer from scratch and he gave me a quick science experiment. He has multiple "recipes" on the bar menu and was happy to share knowledge about composition and chemistry..
Once seated, the first order of business was the Tuna Tartare. We are big fans of Tuna Tartare and order in often, comparing and contrasting our choices. This version, served with chile sesame dressing, brunoise cut green apples, with an accompaniment of house potato chips (with what I believe is a sprinkling of cayenne) is excellent. The house chips were a unique way of serving the dish and it worked seamlessly. We ordered the Pasta Jambalaya with a huge pile of duck, andouille, chicken and shrimp. It required some heavy lifting, and my husband rose to the job. I ordered chicken stuffed with spinach and goat cheese with basil whipped potatoes on the side.. Beautiful and I loved the side dish enough to try to replicate at home.
And the service is top notch. I have now read a few reviews about the restaurant and one recurring theme is the servers are all "very young" and "eager". Those comments made me think of girl scout troops earning their service industry badge. Our server, Barrett, was totally versed on the menu, laid back but attentive and totally comfortable steering us when we needed it as we asked for recommendations. We appreciate servers who actually know the food and give honest recommendations. It earns respect and the patrons always know when fabricated answers are provided. Every other server we saw or interacted with were friendly, professional and seemed to radiate that at ease but put-together atmosphere. This experience proved "True Food" does not have to be pretentious.And this version of "True Food" is a great choice to add to your list whether you are an Atlanta native or just visiting.