Week­ends at The Red Barn Café—go!

GA Voice - - National Lgbt Pride -

David Sweeney has taken over the kitchen at It is lo­cated be­hind the pic­turesque Tiger Moun­tain Vine­yards

The Red Barn Café. (2592 Old High­way 441 South, Tiger, GA, 30576, tiger­wine.com).

Sweeney gained fame in 2007 when he opened the veg­e­tar­ian Dy­namic Dish in the Sweet Auburn District. His spe­cialty has re­mained veg­e­tar­ian/ve­gan cui­sine. Lots of peo­ple still run when they hear the word “veg­e­tar­ian” be­cause they think of veg­eta­bles as noth­ing but an ac­com­pa­ni­ment to meat. But Sweeney’s bril­liant in­ven­tions, its lay­ers of sublime and earthy fla­vors, never leave an ad­ven­tur­ous diner un­sat­is­fied.

I might add that be­fore he un­der­took a culi­nary ca­reer, Sweeney worked in fash­ion houses like Ralph Lau­ren and Gucci, so vis­ual aes­thet­ics are a strong part of his work. In that, this new tem­po­rary gig at the Red Barn – he’s there through Oc­to­ber – is per­fect. The pa­tio over­looks the vine­yard’s vines and a broad field in­ter­sected by a dirt road that of­fers a com­pelling walk.

The Café is only open week­ends – for dinner Fri­day evenings and brunch and dinner Satur­day and Sun­day. (Get a reser­va­tion!) I con­fess, the menu star­tled me. While Sweeney has never re­fused serv­ing fish and meat on oc­ca­sion, they play a strong role on the brief menu. Sweeney con­firmed the ob­vi­ous rea­son why; the clien­tele is older, lo­cal, and thus not quite as ad­ven­tur­ous. They’re cer­tainly not un­so­phis­ti­cated and the wines, I’m sure, right­fully draw many. And these are no ama­teur wines. Tiger’s Petit Manseng, a white wine, has racked up ma­jor awards this year.

Not sur­pris­ingly, when three of us vis­ited for Sun­day brunch re­cently, our fa­vorite dishes were the veg­e­tar­ian ones we ordered as starters to share. The most ir­re­sistible was a bowl of corn, quinoa, toasted pump­kin seeds, scal­lions, cilantro, cotija cheese, and red jalapenos. Next was hum­mus made of black-eyed peas with gi­ant ovals of 7-grain toast, shaved kohlrabi, cu­cum­bers, cala­mata olives, sprouted fenu­greek, and chopped Vi­dalias. Un­for­tu­nately, the two other veg­e­tar­ian dishes, in­clud­ing grilled ze­phyr squash, were sold out. Un­der­stand that the over­whelm­ing spices that so many am­a­teur­ish veg­e­tar­ian chefs use do not pol­lute these dishes. All of the sus­tain­able, hy­per-fresh in­gre­di­ents are re­liant on their own nat­u­ral, star­tling fla­vors.

The same goes for most meat dishes. For an en­trée, I ordered shred­ded brisket cooked in a rich red sauce, topped with a fried egg, served over a fat split biscuit sur­rounded by an ex­plo­sively fla­vor­ful, sweet tomato jam. Smoked trout – sort of a riff on lox – was served with 7-grain toast points, var­i­ous greens (in­clud­ing purslane), and a creamy blend of chevre, ca­pers, and dill. A link of bratwurst was served with a dol­lop of or­ganic mus­tard and some Ger­man po­tato salad – my least fa­vorite dish.

For dessert, I ordered a bowl of or­ganic red and yel­low cher­ries mixed with ovals of choco­late. This was prob­a­bly the least suc­cess­ful dish. Many of the cher­ries had a mealy tex­ture. Far bet­ter was the cheese board, fea­tur­ing two cheeses, a few cher­ries, some sliced peaches, and pump­kin­seed brit­tle (try it!).

Cliff Bo­s­tock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now prac­tices life coach­ing for creative types; 404-518-4415.

A sur­pris­ing meat-eaters’ brunch spe­cial from the king of veg­e­tar­ian chefs, David Sweeney: brisket, a biscuit, tomato jam, and a per­fect fried egg. (Photo by Cliff Bo­s­tock)

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