Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sneak Peek Dinner at The Lawrence

Just after Christmas, we drove home 4 hours from Asheville, NC and rushed to pack for our 7 am flight to Los Angeles all to be ready to experience a sneak peek of The Lawrence.  Now in a soft opening phase and hosting seated dinners to build the buzz, over the holidays Scoutmob and The Lawrence hosted a series of four dinners to expose Atlanta to their concept. 

The Lawrence is housed at 905 Juniper in the old Beleza/ Cuerno spot once owned by Richard Ullio. Upon entering the space had been white washed, the bar was still unstained, and there were only candles to light the evening in the dining room, but the kitchen was hustling. 

This new concept comes to Midtown in an interesting collaboration between Patrick La Bouff  of Dinner Party Atlanta, Darren Carr and chef Shane Devereux partners with La Bouff from  Top Flr (Midtown) and Sound Table (O4W) , the chef de cuisine will be George Brooks (formerly at Rathbun's). Behind the bar as beverage directors The Lawrence features the amazing and friendly Eric Simpkins (DrinkShop/Trois) and T. Fable Jeon. Also according to Liza Dunning of LuxeCrush Atlanta,  the King of Pops brothers are investors in this property. 

So what do you get from such an interesting mash-up of young Atlanta culinary talent? A great night out, fabulous creative cocktails, thoughtful food, and a warm welcome from the whole team.

As we were seated, we were presented with our agenda for the night showcasing several of Simkin's cocktails and great wines along with small plates from throughout the menu. 
The menu

We eagerly sampled two cocktails along with some bar bites which came out of the kitchen in a self-serve style. The group encouraged guests to mingle in the space, ask questions of the busy chefs, and to get a feel for the concept. Our first cocktail featured Rye, brown sugar, maple, coffee and creme and was an excellent way to warm up on a very cold night. The second cocktail was my highlight of the night. It was a bright blend of Gin infused with jasmine tea (yes handmade) and paired with homemade cranberry jam, lime and sparkling rose. Who knew bartenders made their own jam? 

Our drinks were complemented by the small plates of pickled eggs, crispy hogs ears (yes they were good), house made beef jerky and a shot of creamy mushroom soup. 
Pickled Eggs

As we moved into the next courses, we were offered a sampling of some unique yet approachable wines ranging from a modern riesling to a rich Monastrell.  The small plates started with a beet salad, followed by house made fish sticks served with chick pea frites and stewed tomatoes, as Chef Devereaux explained this dish, he called it comfort food from his childhood dressed up.  The entree samples included a potato gnocchi with chicharrones, the flavors were rich and the textures a great contrast. The final entree was rabbit schnitzel, this was delicious with charred tomato and fennel salad. 
Beet Salad

Fancy Fish Sticks


As we ate dinner, I had a chance to talk to La Bouff about the name. He said he was happy to have been able to select it and be supported by his partners. The Lawrence refers to St. Lawrence who as I guess good Catholics know was basically grilled to death. The tiny symbol on the menu is a little grill and St. Lawrence is known as the patron saint of chefs and cooks. A fitting name I would say with this collaboration. As La Bouff and Carr made their way around the room it was evident they are excited about this place. The took the time to explain their concept and welcomed us as return visitors with a swag bag for each guest including discounts for the year of 2012 and a gift certificate. 

For dessert, we enjoyed a slightly Asian flavor of rice pudding with coconut milk and cilantro. For someone who always prefers savory to super sweet this dessert hit the spot and cleared my palate for the final drink of the night, a chai buttered rum. For this Simkins made his own compound butter filled with brown sugar and slowly melted it into each drink. Talk about a hand crafted cocktail. I was glad the post holiday diet didn't start until the 1st! The evening ended with many leaving and some of us having time to talk with Simkins and get a chance to revisit our favorite drinks of the night. The headache on the 7am flight was well worth it. 

I am looking forward to their full opening and to returning soon to The Lawrence!

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