This is one of several posts from my three trips to the US during the months of June and July 2016. For the rest, follow this link.
Forty-eight hours after returning from new employee training California, I was back on a plane to Atlanta. We (my company) were sponsors of a major industry conference at which I would be speaking. On top of that, our brand new employees would be on the exhibition floor putting their knowledge to the test.
The show was a huge success for our company, and any fatigue I might have had was lifted by catching up with old colleagues and finding a nice cheese plate steps away from the hotel!
GRAIN opened about a year and a half ago in Midtown, the Atlanta neighborhood that abuts the Georgia Tech campus. I’ve been to a few of bars like GRAIN that have popped up in various cities over the past few years, with their craft cocktails and fine nibbly bits (think: eclectic tapas). While I love the concept, they tend to attract hipsters and can be a bit precious.
GRAIN was neither of these. Perhaps it was the neighborhood, but there was nary a top knot or bushy beard in sight. Just normal people enjoying good food served by an amiable down-to-earth staff. Upon arriving I was delighted to discover it was Negroni Week! A week devoted to my favorite cocktail? What’s not to like!
I visited two nights in a row and tasted nearly all of their cheese (everything except pimiento cheese, which I never liked even before I discovered decent cheese). My favorite of the cheeses wanted to be the Moses Sleeper, a blooming rind cheese that had an earthy mushroom-y taste but absolutely reeked of ammonia from over-ripening. The Beemester had a crumbly texture and a pleasant milky taste, while the Bay Blue was of medium intensity and wanted something a bit sweet to go along with it. The Appenzeller was very good—as good as some I’ve had in France—and had the grassy flavor of a mountain cheese. The accoutrements were average. The nut brittle was quite good but went with nothing on the plate, while the onion marmalade was more bitter than sweet and should’ve been paired with pâté rather than cheese.
On the second night I went with some friends and ordered GRAIN’s excellent charcuterie platter as well. Actually, it was so good we ordered two of them. I know relatively little about charcuterie, although I’d expect the principles to be the same as with cheese: start with fresh and fine raw ingredients and treat them with a light and reverent hand. These were great products with balanced flavors—a bit of pistachio or garlic or smoke or pepper—but always with the taste of good pork in the forefront.
Yes, there were a couple of flat notes on the cheese plate, but I’d definitely go back to GRAIN for a snack and drink.
GRAIN Atlanta, 856 W Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308