Fab­u­lous food to be found at Mid­town’s 8arm

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

Few, if any, restau­rants in At­lanta have ever opened with the vir­tual se­crecy that Oc­to­pus Bar did in East At­lanta in 2011. Open late nights only and ca­ter­ing mainly to peo­ple in the restau­rant trade, the restau­rant soon de­servedly turned into – and re­mains – a gar­gan­tuan mag­net in the galaxy of hip food­ies. Owner-chefs An­gus Brown and Nhan Le let their re­spec­tive French and Asian styles col­lide in sharable mas­ter­pieces.

Af­ter a failed at­tempt to op­er­ate a Buck­head seafood restau­rant, Lusca, the pair have now opened a Mid­town spot,

8arm (710 Ponce de Leon Ave. 470-875-5856),

that has be­come one of my fa­vorites, although I’ve not been there as of­ten as I’d like. It is lo­cated in the for­mer scooter shop space that fronts Paris on Ponce, in the shadow of Ponce City Mar­ket across from the mur­dered Mur­der Kroger.

The morn­ing am­biance is all about flaw­less cof­fee and pas­tries from on-site baker Sarah Dodge. The crispy, fluffy, flaky, but­tery, but­ter­milky kinda-sorta cat­head bis­cuit has be­come an ob­ses­sion with many in the city. There are also cin­na­mon rolls, quiche and the like (I’m still wait­ing for a scone). But the sig­na­ture morn­ing dish is the Egg McMuff. I well re­mem­ber when my first part­ner, a die hard foodie, in­sisted we try the new Egg McMuf­fin at McDon­ald’s sev­eral life­times ago. It was so vile, any sug­ges­tion of it still creeps me out. 8arm’s par­ody, though, is pretty damn un­for­get­table for good rea­son. Dodge’s English muf­fin is lay­ered with creamy scram­bled eggs, av­o­cado, ba­con and cilantro-Tabasco mayo.

Lunch fur­ther ex­pands the ab­domen. My fave is a take on the clas­sic Reuben. It’s piled with Black For­est ham, sauer­kraut, Gor­gonzola cheese, mayo and Di­jon mus­tard. The damn thing is freakin’ gi­gan­tic. Grain bowls and roasted quail are also avail­able.

At din­ner­time, Chef Brown gets a bit kinkier – and our gor­geous server got a bit frus­trated with my friends and I dur­ing my only night­time visit. I know the bur­rata, my fa­vorite cheese, is many peo­ple’s fa­vorite, served with cran­berry beans, pep­pers and mint the evening of our visit. The Manila clams, steamed with co­conut milk, cilantro and lime did make it to the ta­ble, but wasn’t very im­pres­sive. The clams were tough lit­tle boogers.

En­trée-sized por­tions are mainly fab­u­lous. My fa­vorite was the crispy, creamy grouper topped with a pointed green sauce, served with corona beans that look like over­sized lima beans. My own en­trée was half a juicy boned chicken served over lentils with chicory. The menu said it in­cluded white an­chovies, but I never re­ally de­tected those. In any case, it was won­der­ful and, at $26, the most ex­pen­sive dish on the menu of nine items. Only one dish on the ta­ble pro­duced an­noy­ance. My thin friend Frank is our group’s dump­ster. What­ever we leave on our plates goes di­rectly to his gul­let, so it was the por­tion size, not the taste of the tagli­atelle, that an­noyed him. The in­tensely rich dish would prob­a­bly be ad­e­quate for an av­er­age diner. Then, again, he shared a sin­gle dessert – but­ter­milk cake with ice cream – with an­other friend, whereas I or­dered my own, re­fus­ing to share.

Be aware the menus change al­most daily. And also be aware, as I said, that you’ll drop some cash here. One wall is painted with a ban­ner bear­ing a Latin phrase that trans­lates as “There’s no re­ward in serv­ing the wicked.” In other words, you bet­ter tip well.

Cliff Bo­s­tock is a for­mer psy­chother­a­pist now spe­cial­iz­ing in life coach­ing. Con­tact him at 404-518-4415 or cliff­bo­stock@gmail.com.

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