Feedbag - Go tell it on the mountain

Uncouth patrons can’t ruin a glorious meal at Blue Ridge Grill

Two of my biggest pet peeves about restaurant dining are 1) people who think nothing of throwing on jeans and a sweatshirt for a meal that’s going to cost upward of $200, and 2) people who salt their food before they’ve tasted it. Why do people do these things? If the server is wearing a nicer outfit than you, it’s a problem. Turn around, go get back in your car and swing through the Wendy’s drive-thru on your way home. And I’m not saying that the chef gets the seasoning perfect every time. Your squash casserole might indeed need a pinch of salt. But for crying out loud, taste it first! Is that so much to ask?

Now that I’ve covered the disturbing habits of other patrons during my recent evening at Blue Ridge Grill, I can move on to the high points.

Situated on West Paces Ferry at the junction with I-75, Blue Ridge Grill is a mountain lodge that seems to have lost its mountains. The woodsy theme is carried out beautifully, from the pine beams and tongue-and-groove ceilings to the Indian throw rugs and overstuffed leather chairs. Swanky and rustic, it turns out, are not mutually exclusive. A large, eye-catching portrait on a far wall brings some humor to the space: It’s of a portly rabbit in a three-piece suit.

The menu’s a little bit old-school steak house, a little bit Southern belle. The Blue Ridge salad is a sophisticated jumble of baby greens, honey-sweet poached pears, pungent Stilton, and pecans, all tossed in champagne vinaigrette. A crab cake is substantial but not heavy: Sweet chunks of lump crabmeat mingle with a bit of scallion and not much else. A mound of cucumber slaw and three small ramekins filled with remoulade, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce make for an elegant presentation.

My husband’s 22-ounce rib eye looked like more steak than even he could handle, but one bite of juicy, carnivorous goodness and he couldn’t stop himself. I wanted to stick my hand in for a bite, but I worried I’d draw back a nub. The bone-in steak, charred outside and cooked to a perfect medium rare, really was outstanding. On the side was a dollop of spicy-sweet tomato chutney, redolent of cinnamon and nutmeg. But the unexpected hit of the evening was a snowy filet of trout, grilled and sauced with a lemony beurre blanc and topped with arugula.

Sides (served family-style, meaning a giant portion everyone shares) are the sort of things you always wished would show up at the Thanksgiving table: decadently cheesy squash casserole, buttery asparagus spears, sweet collards. In a rare turn of events, we ate so much that we didn’t have room for dessert. And just for the record, nothing needed salt.


ATL restaurants aid tsunami victimsOn Tues., Feb. 8, more than 90 restaurants in Atlanta will participate in Dine-Out for Tsumani Relief. Each of the participating restaurants will donate 20 percent of the night’s total sales to CARE, an Atlanta-based organization dedicated to disaster recovery and poverty relief programs. Check out www.dineoutfortsunamirelief.com for the most current list of restaurants.

VD comes around againI know, I know. Valentine’s Day is still weeks away. You’re not ready to think about it yet. But if you’re entertaining the notion of taking that special somebody out for a dinner that will leave her limp in your arms, better start making reservations quick. Since it falls on a Monday this year, a lot of restaurants are throwing their Valentine’s Day shindigs the weekend before. Here are some swoon-worthy options around town:

MidCity Cuisine celebrates Valentine’s Day all weekend long (Fri.-Mon., Feb. 11-14) with a Valentine-inspired four-course menu. Highlights include truffled potato gnocchi, braised Kobe beef and Valhrona chocolate cake. The dinner is $65 per person, with wine pairings an additional $35. 1545 Peachtree St. 404-888-8700. www.midcitycuisine.com.

The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead will host “A Taste of Love” on Sat., Feb. 12. The event, sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia, will feature a gourmet dinner prepared by Chef Bruno Menard, wine tastings, a live auction and entertainment by the Voltage Brothers. Cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m. $200 per person. Proceeds benefit the Epilepsy Foundation. 3434 Peachtree Road. 404-237-2700. www.ritzcarlton.com.

OK, so it’s not all about being a couple on Valentine’s Day. Singles should hop over to Loca Luna on Thurs., Feb. 10, for the third annual Cupid Party. Festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. It’s hosted by 8 Minute Dating. Who knows? You might meet your soul mate in time for Valentine’s Day. 836 Juniper St. 404-875-4494. www.loca-luna.com.??

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