Brunch in Buckhead: Watershed, a Southern Jewel

wpid-20130714_135352.jpgWatershed on Peachtree
Atlanta, Georgia

Mornings and I have been butting heads since 1983–the year I was born. That’s why brunch is quite possibly the best concept ever. I love everything about it. The idea that sleeping in is perfectly acceptable, the ease of drinking coffee near afternoon, the pleasure of indulging in breakfast and lunch foods simultaneously…it all feels a bit devious, but oh-so-good. When I roll to the big city of Atlanta, discovering new brunch spots is my tolerate-six-lane-traffic and fast-paced-people salvation. Upon my last visit, fate introduced me to Watershed on Peachtree. As if the complimentary valet parking wasn’t enough, the country ham biscuits served with peach marmalade, local honey and whipped butter almost sent me over the edge. It’s a Southern jewel with big presence, in a location where the competition is ravenous. 

wpid-20130714_124235.jpgRecently named one of the Best New Restaurants in the American South by Conde Nast Traveler, the highfalutin’ eatery is an upscale farm-to-table experience I believe everyone in the free world should try at least once. I ordered the Bay Bloody Mary above, when I learned it was seasoned with Old Bay. Garnished with pickled green beans, pimento-stuffed olives and a juicy lime wedge, the souped-up cocktail and salted rim had me at hello.

THE FOOD:

wpid-20130714_124854.jpgCountry ham is a rarity in restaurants anymore. To see it featured on the menu in its rightful place between two flaky, fall-apart-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits…what is life? Other Starters on the brunch menu include Pimento Cheese Toast, Wild Mushroom Toast, Sausage Gravy & Biscuit served with bacon jam and fine herbs, and Smoked Ham Wrapped Gulf Shrimp a la plancha (grilled).

I’m attracted to all things coastal, even more so when I feel landlocked. Naturally, I ordered the Coconut Pancakes served with coconut syrup and a side of bacon. The bacon was cooked to perfection without an ounce of fat…lean and crispy, the perfect crunch to the meal. At just $10, the pancake stack was sweet and satisfying, keeping me full late into the day.

We also tried the Huevos Rancheros and Chilaquiles featuring eggs any style, Heywood’s andouille sausage and salsa ranchero. My boyfriend ordered a side of fries because the table’s order next to us looked so appetizing. Potatoes rock. Offering a variety of sophisticated, yet recognizable dishes like Chicken Fried Poached Eggs, Seafood Melange and a Crabby Shrimp Burger, the brunch menu also boasts classics like the Southern Cobb and Wild Georgia Shrimp Salads. Prices range from $6.50 for Starters to $18.50 for Steak & Eggs.

THE ATMOSPHERE:

Watershed on Peachtree has a beautiful, raw setting that’s bright and open with modern lighting. From the moment you set foot in the elegant entryway, the cheerful and clean atmosphere invites you to stay.

THE STAFF:
wpid-20130714_134323.jpgOur server, John had been waiting tables at the restaurant for just four months, but was very informative and most helpful. He told us all about the famous fried chicken served only on Wednesdays. In Southern Living magazine this month, Watershed on Peachtree is considered an upscale place to get The South’s Best Fried Chicken, noting it’s “always sold out by 8 p.m.” He also shared that Executive Chef Joe Truex, native Louisianian, couldn’t wait to begin serving up gumbo on Thursday nights.

wpid-20130714_134800.jpgWatershed on Peachtree has a commitment to seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Many of the cocktails are even organic! With an ever-changing menu, the restaurant’s cocktail napkins read, “creative and delicious Southern food enjoyed in comfort and community.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Watershed on Peachtree on Urbanspoon

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Georgia and Texas Collide at Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ

wpid-20130713_202140.jpgHottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ
Atlanta, Georgia

Barbecue restaurants are a dime a dozen in the South, but not all of them shine. A bit off the beaten path, I was recently invited to visit Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ in Atlanta, and while the menu did include some typical side dishes, like mac & cheese and potato salad, the real surprise came in the blackened Mahi-mahi fish tacos, the whole fried okra and the chocolate pecan pie. It was a combination of the menu’s unpredictability and the atmosphere’s eclectic, neighborhood vibe, set to the sound of live rhythm and blues that caught my immediate attention. The smell of smoked pig hovering in the parking lot indicated a good time before we even walked through the doors.

I’m Rebekah Faulk and that’s my boyfriend Kurt and I above, along with Katelynne, our server. We visited Hottie Hawg’s on a Saturday night. As soon as we walked in, we heard, “Hey y’all. Welcome to Hottie Hawg’s! Just have a seat wherever you’d like,” followed by another voice from the bar who hollered, “Welcome to Hottie Hawg’s!”

wpid-20130713_203935.jpgWe took our seats close to the small stage just a few tables away from the lively bar, where we were entertained with old school blues all night long by Steve. Jam on, brother.

THE STAFF:

Shortly after sitting down, we were greeted by Chef Charles, better known by the staff as Chuck. Eager and excited to share his creations, Chuck was from Hinesville, Ga. Then later, Kyle, the owner, AKA Boss Hawg, made his way to our table. We told him to pull up a chair, and he grabbed a beer from the bar and joined us. A straight-shooter and native Texan, he was laid back and easygoing. His passion and drive was infectious, and it was apparent that Hottie Hawg’s was his heart. He could tell you every detail about the Stump’s Smokers they use to cook the meat, the local artwork on the walls and the menu items. Boss Hawg was in his element. “There’s Texas. There’s Georgia. We put it all together,” he said. Here, he explains how the magic happens:

THE FOOD: 


Best known for their sliced brisket, ribs and smoked chicken wings, Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ is the three-time reigning Taste of Marietta champion, having won the competition consecutively from 2011-2013. Their stand out side dishes include fried okra, collard greens and Brunswick stew. You can expect to pay anywhere from $6-$25, depending on your appetite. We shared two meat combos including sliced brisket, chopped brisket, beer can chicken, pulled pork and andouille sausage. My favorite? Beer can chicken. The smoked flavor of the skin was crispy and slightly charred, and the chicken, perfectly moist. On brisket, my favorite was chopped because I found it easiest to eat. Boss Hawg compared the Texas style brisket to steak, explaining it this way—“If you’re a rib eye fan, you’ll probably like the chopped brisket. Filet mignon fan? You’ll liked the sliced.” The chopped brisket tends to contain more fat. Served on a cutting board, the meat combo came complete with your choice of two different sauces: Carolina-style mustard or Georgia style tomato-onion. Many of the menu items are Southwestern influenced, and the meats and cheeses are as locally sourced as possible.

THE ATMOSPHERE:

From the moment you walk in at Hottie Hawg’s, you feel comfortable. It’s unpretentious. Nothing fancy. It’s down home, local, informal, casual. It’s where the firemen hangout…an atmosphere where everybody knows everybody. Oftentimes folks think Atlanta is all white table cloths and candlelight, but not so. Sports memorabilia, tag plates and ball caps grace the walls. With a sexy pig for a logo, Hottie Hawg’s brings a fun, party vibe to the outskirts of town.

THE BAR:


The restaurant offers some rather “spirited” drinks, like the Rusted Out Muffler and the Adios Mother @%#$&. From the Hawg Balls to the 32 oz. Hawg-a-Rita, Hottie Hawg’s really follows through with the pig theme of things. For instance, the 18-Squeeler:

wpid-20130713_202342.jpgIt’s a 35-foot BBQ rig, fully equipped with grills, refrigeration, an air-conditioned kitchen and flat screen TVs!

wpid-20130713_202356.jpgOpen for just three years, Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ, has more than 3,000 Facebook fans. They even offer brunch! Be sure to check them out on Lifetime this Tuesday, July 16 for the premiere of Catering Wars. I’ll be rootin’ for ’em.


Note: I was invited to review Hottie Hawg’s BBQ and our meal was comped.

Hottie Hawg's Smokin' BBQ on Urbanspoon