So, you know, palatable. A step up!
The day before your last day of vacation feels like the first four stages of grief, a furious cycle through denial (This isn't happening!), anger (Damn the man!), bargaining (If I call in sick on a Monday after vacation, that'll seem believable, right?), and depression (Ah, skrewit. This is my life: work, then death.). You don't get to acceptance, because then it's suddenly the actual last day of vacation, and you figure there's nothing else to do but put on your party shoes.
In the case of The Family F, that meant a trip to FLiP Burger Boutique, an Atlanta hot spot recently spun off to the 'ham. Those of you with no social life whatsoever will recognize it as the brainchild of one Richard Blais, contestant on Top Chef: Chicago, season 4, only on Bravo.
Two things you should know about Richard Blais: One, he is a loser of weight. (Normally I would leave him and his weight alone, but in this case I feel I must tip my hat. Well done, sir!) Two, slimming down has made him no less adorable.
*photo by MW.
The hair is something to behold, no?
TFin and JBSH and I arrived first and chitchatted with the bartenders, and I ordered the ginger margarita (yumzah) and lamented my crummy photo skills with JBSH, each of us waving our cameras at each other in talentless solidarity.
Slowly the rest of the crew trickled in slowly, first TwinFin and MW, then LSis and her brood, including this dapper stranger.
Who is that handsome fellow? Why it is BiL himself, caught in a moment of self-congratulatory reverie. You see, he had realized the winsomeness of TFin's haberdashery, a feat not quite as well achieved by TwinFin.
Aw, big head.
We occupied a large table running down the center of the restaurant, flanked by the bar on one side and booths jauntily constructed of a banquette seat topped by another, upside down banquette seat (flip, get it?), with an impressive mural scrawled across the high ceiling above.
It is important to note that the family had only ratcheted up to our ordinary, everyday level of obnoxiousness—nothing fancy. We had to try every side first, then ordered a succession of ever more exciting milkshakes (s'mores, what they call in Atlanta "Nutella and burnt marshmallow" but have dumbed down for the Alabaman masses, delicious; Krispy Kreme, meh; foie gras, shutthefrontdoor that's delicious don'taskquestionsjusttaste it).
Duck fat soaked in amaretto, then shaken with milk? Some of us were braver than others.
We tried all the liquid nitrogen cocktails—a mango martini with a thin layer of ice on top that you stab with a skewer to release a sphere of pure mango deliciousness into the ice-cold liquor, and a citrus martini with a nitrogen-frozen lemon slice that hits the vodka and shatters into a thousand beautiful, sweet shards.
We poked the chicken until she woke up, then fought ruthlessly over who got to hold her.
Oh, and everybody wore the hat.
We also ate, a stunningly delicious experience that works best if you leave your expectations at the door.
TFin has eaten on just about every continent in the world, in some of the best restaurants in the world, and he declared his burger (raw hanger steak, garlic, chili, capers, Worcestershire, pickled onion, frisée salad, smoked mayo, and a sous-vide egg yolk) the "best steak tartare I've ever had. But on a bun."
MW, our resident pescatarian, tried the "burger of the day," an almost-too-pretty-to-eat tuna tartare burger spiced with wasabi and topped with a trompe l'oeil egg yolk that turned out to be sweet mango purée. Also: fried bread and butter pickles, sprinkled with fresh dill and served with buttermilk ranch dipping sauce.
*photo by MW.
I had the Korean bbq burger, a crazy two-meats concoction that combines American wagyu beef and short rib, kimchee ketchup, pickled vegetables, and crispy tempura onion.
*photo by MW.
Yes, I fit that in my mouth. Ahem.
There was so much eating and so much exclaiming and so much being obnoxious that we were only vaguely aware that we were being waited on by the entire staff of the restaurant. The manager paced alongside our table, reprimanding our waitress for the slightest oversight of water refills or dropped napkins. Sure, Richard Blais came out and spoke, but it's a new restaurant. The chef makes the rounds.
Except then he came back. And he seemed nervous. We chitchatted with him aimlessly; I was the only one at the table who watched Top Chef (see note re: social life), so no one recognized him until I commenced stage whispering. Finally he admitted that someone behind the bar had notified him that there were people in the restaurant who "had cameras. And not just cameras, BIG cameras."
They thought we were someBODY.
*photo by MW.
The earnestness was almost too much to bear, an overdose of adorable.
I rarely rave, but go to FLiP, over and over again, and try everything on the menu that you can. And be kind—leave your big camera at home.