The updated draft top 100 went up on Friday, and I just went into the Conversation to answer your questions.
I was only on the ground in Atlanta for about 24 hours last week but did end up eating at three new places.
Big Daddy’s is a well-reviewed and inexpensive soul food place just south of the airport where you order at the counter from steam trays, much like the meat-and-three places I found in Nashville a few years ago. The one surprise to me was the lack of fried dishes – they offer fried fish to order but no fried chicken, which I think of as a staple of Southern cuisine. I’m assuming that they don’t offer it because fried chicken that has been sitting is just not good eats. The service was extremely friendly, but the food – roasted chicken, cornbread stuffing that was way too salty, steamed okra that was just slimy, and collard greens – was unremarkable. Grade 45.
I met a friend of mine from high school for dinner at Milton’s in the town of that name in Fulton County, where we ended up ordering the same thing, the panko-crusted trout with black sesame seeds, which the server told us was their most popular dish. The fish was excellent, very fresh, pan-fried but not greasy, and the sweet red chili sauce underneath was a good complement to the slightly salty taste of the breading. The dish was overloaded with sides, including shrimp-sweet potato fritters that looked amazing but were kind of gummy, and some ho-hum mashed potatoes. I’d give them a 50 for the fish but they may be trying too hard with the extras.
The best meal of the trip came on a tip from Friend of the Dish Richard Dansky, whose novel Firefly Rain earned my recommendation last month. The Buckhead Bread Company is part bakery, part upscale brunch spot. I’m not normally a French toast guy, but I figured that was a smart order in restaurant attached to a bakery. The chef uses rounds cut from brioche and must finish them under a broiler to add a sweet, crunchy crumb topping, and the dish comes with a blueberry sauce and fresh blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. I also had the sausage patties, which were on the savory side for breakfast and were overcooked, but the saltiness was a good offset to the sweetness of the French toast, which could easily have been on the dessert menu for a fine restaurant. (Pain perdu, the French version of French toast, is served as dessert in France, not as breakfast.) The menu wasn’t extensive but they had several other offerings I wanted to try, so between that and the high quality of what I got, it’s a 55.
My 24 hours in Dallas were less productive from an eating perspective, as I only ate one meal outside a hotel or ballpark. Spring Creek BBQ is a local chain of Q joints, and there’s one not far from UTA’s park that was reasonably convenient for me to hit before hopping my flight out of DFW. Their sliced beef (brisket) was mixed – the ends were flavorful on their own and just needed a little sauce to cut their dryness, while the center slices were almost too moist and had the texture of corned beef (one of the few foods that I absolutely despise). The mild smoked sausage was plus, a salty-sweet-smoky link of porcine goodness. The sides are serve-yourself, which makes me think about how utterly disgusting most people are, but the meal comes with unlimited hot rolls, a little like a large Parker house roll but white rather than slightly yellow inside, which I assume means it’s made with milk but doesn’t contain much butter. It’s a high 50 for me.