Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fabulous Fall Dinner with Staplehouse

I have been waiting for months to get a seat at this dinner table! Prelude to Staplehouse is a supper club of sorts hosted by Chef Ryan Hidinger  and Jen Hidinger. Ryan attended the Art Institute here in Atlanta after high school before returning to his home in Indianapolis to begin a career as a chef. That career took him from top restaurants in Indiana to Atlanta where he worked at Bacchanalia, Float Away Cafe, and finally Muss and Turners. Today the Hidingers are working on a new restaurant concept Staplehouse, which will feature fresh ingredients, craft beers, and a great bar. They hope to have great food in a comfortable atmosphere with a reasonable range of price points. The Prelude to Staplehouse dinners have quickly become one of the hottest tickets for Atlanta foodies. The moment an invitation goes out, hopefuls respond to the email invite and cross their fingers for one of the 10 seats. They have been hosting formal five course dinners, and some family style three course meals on an almost monthly basis. I tried for two months to snag a seat, responding three minutes after the email came out to no avail. Then finally I grabbed two spots for the October 24th family style dinner!

We arrived at the cute house in Grant Park for the reception and were greeted warmly by Jen and introduced to the other guests for the evening. Mostly Atlantans, the crowd ranged from younger folks to slightly older couples, but we all had an interest in food and wine. Ryan was hard at work in the kitchen, and the smells were amazing. The menu for the night was to be served family style and paired with wine and beer. They served a fennel apple salad with hazelnuts, grain mustard and goat cheese, a roasted loin of boar with caramelized apples, onions and sage, and finally the best homemade pumpkin pie I have ever eaten (sorry mom).

The fennel and apple salad was crisp and fresh, topped with goat cheese, nuts, and bacon (yes please!). It had the perfect balance of clean crisp texture and a rich fall  flavors to complement the cozy meal.  The boar loin was something I had not experienced. I have eaten wild boar several times in Italy and here in Atlanta, but typically had seen it served stewed or as a part of a ragu or bolognese sauce. The wild boar loin was tender, lean and ultra flavorful. It was served atop caramelized apples, onions, and sage with other fall root veggies. The meat was not too rich, and without knowing it was boar most would have though it was a heavenly marinaded pork tenderloin.

Finally the dessert, the pumpkin pie had a homemade crust, a real pumpkin filling (no canned pumpkin here) and was topped with a maple syrup whipped cream. This was paired fantastically with a pumpkin ale. The flavors washed together to create the perfect ending to a great meal.  For some great pictures of the food taken by Jen as well as recap of the meal, check out their blog.

Ryan and Jen were such gracious hosts, welcoming us to their home, and sharing their fantastic food. Ryan took time to tell us about his concept, his cooking style, and the plans for the new restaurant. Today another dinner invitation came out, but sadly I will be out of town. So now, I wait poised over my gmail for the next invitation, and am eagerly awaiting the opening of Staplehouse.

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