Twisted Soul South­ern Kitchen & Bar, po­etry on a plate

GA Voice - - 2015 Atlanta Pride Event Guide -

If Deb­o­rah VanTrece had cho­sen a ca­reer other than cook­ing, she might have be­come a poet. In 1998, she opened a res­tau­rant called Ed­i­ble Art, and more re­cently, she launched Twisted Soul South­ern Kitchen + Bar in De­catur. If the names aren’t poetic enough, VanTrece’s cook­ing cer­tainly is. She mixes in­gre­di­ents in the twisted way a poet mixes metaphors that re­fer to the soul­ful South as well as other ar­eas of the world. Where else are you go­ing to find short-rib lasagna made with lo­cal goat cheese?

I ate fre­quently at Ed­i­ble Art, a vir­tual hole-in-the-wall in East At­lanta Vil­lage. It closed in 2002 thanks to one of the nu­mer­ous land­lord dis­putes in that area. Af­ter clos­ing, VanTrece took up cater­ing, which re­mains her bread and but­ter. She gained con­sid­er­able fame when she ap­peared on NBC’s “Food Fight­ers” in Au­gust. Lorraine Lane, VanTrece’s life part­ner, runs Twisted Soul’s bar, which serves kinky cock­tails such as win­ter­time’s sweet potato mar­tini.

Twisted Soul (314 E. Howard Ave., De­catur, 404-373-2725)

re­places Mar­bar in its lo­ca­tion across from De­catur’s re­vamped train de­pot. VanTrece and Lane have done lit­tle to change the comfy, spa­cious dé­cor they in­her­ited. Friends and I ate on the pa­tio there a few weeks ago and had a mainly splen­did meal.

We were pre­sented with an amuse bouche of sea­soned chicken salad nes­tled in a ring of crispy won­tons gar­nished with mi­cro­greens. (The salad is also avail­able on a sand­wich with radic­chio.) We or­dered a starter plate of shrimp-and-crab frit­ters with gar­lic jam, and another of fried green toma­toes with goat cheese and red-pep­per aioli. Lots of crunch played against com­par­a­tively creamy in­te­ri­ors. I have no com­plaints.

My en­trée was chicken grilled Ca­jun-style. It was served in a bowl with red-bean orzo, okra, corn, tomato suc­co­tash, and red­eye gravy made with tasso ham. This dish points to a prob­lem that all chefs have when com­bin­ing so many in­gre­di­ents: it’s easy to go over­board. While the glazed chicken was suc­cu­lent, I had a prob­lem with the huge amount of corn that over­whelmed ev­ery­thing else. I cer­tainly don’t mean that the dish wasn’t de­li­cious, but I got too much sweet­ness from the corn.

VanTrece said her big­gest seller is her fried chicken. It fea­tures a vir­tu­ally per­fect bread­ing—not too thick or thin—cling­ing to the Springer Moun­tain bird. The three side dishes on the plate are takes on clas­sics: col­lards served in a roll, a scoop of three-cheese orec­chi­ette (oth­er­wise known as mac and cheese), and a chut­ney of sweet potato and ap­ples.

By pop­u­lar con­sen­sus, the best dish on our ta­ble was the short-rib lasagna—a study in ten­der tex­tures, from the broad noo­dles to the braised meat. Toma­toes and goat cheese added sharper fla­vors. Or­der it.

For dessert, we had two serv­ings of peach cob­bler. I don’t think it was up to the qual­ity of the rest of the meal, even with vanilla ice cream added. Again, I’m not say­ing it wasn’t art­fully ed­i­ble. It frankly tasted a bit old.

VanTrece and Lane say they have other projects in plan­ning, in­clud­ing ex­pan­sion, a cook­book, and more TV ap­pear­ances. Get a reser­va­tion and pre­pare to twist your soul.

Cliff Bo­s­tock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now spe­cial­izes in col­lab­o­ra­tive life coach­ing (404-518-4415), www.cliff­bo­stock.com.

Ba­con, let­tuce, fried green tomato, goat cheese driz­zled with roasted red pep­per aioli with home fries. (Cour­tesy photo)

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