Quick, how many people can name a French restaurant in Atlanta, let alone two? What comes to mind are places that have closed (see Joel, Au Pied De Couchon) and small neighborhood spots like Anis or Violette, where the food is good, but they cater to neighborhood regulars and don’t really push the envelope. We were recently invited to a tasting at relative newcomer La Fourchette on the heels of glowing reviews by the AJC, Knife & Fork and Gayot, and can say with just an ounce of hesitance that they will be around for a while.
Chef Jeff Wall has a pretty solid pedigree with stints at Joel, Bacchanalia and BLT Steak, he’s French trained, and oh yeah he makes almost everything from scratch including all the breads (the aroma from brioche alone is to die for) and even preserved lemons! Speaking of the brioche, his first offering of creamy foie gras and chicken liver mousse came with a side car of it straight from the oven.
I love foie gras in anything with the word mousse attached, and this was no exception; the rhubarb-cinnamon jam that shared the plate was a perfect sweet complement to the decadent, silky texture of the foie! I don’t care what your animal cruelty politics are, just have one bite of this and you won’t care anymore.
Next up was a beet salad with tiny slivers of red beet accentuated by pink peppercorns and crème fraiche flanked by a salad of golden beets, pear match sticks and watercress; the salad was dressed with light orange basil dressing that added a little acidity to the dish and tied it together nicely.
I will be the first to admit that this dish really surprised me, in that I normally do not care for beets, and still probably wouldn’t if these ingredients were served on their own, but everything really worked in this dish and I would eat more beets if they were prepared this way!
So far everything was going well and the courses dainty and light…then came the meat courses which thoroughly destroyed any chance I had for meeting up with friends for a late dinner; to say the lamb shank was a large portion would be an understatement.
The tender shank was served on a ragu of navy beans, tomato confit, and grilled endive that were lightly topped off with a little braising jus. I usually try to only take a few bites at these things, but I could not stop eating and sopping up the jus with more brioche!
Next up was duck leg confit with more foie gras…this time perfectly seared and served over a mix of black-eyed peas, leeks, peas and orange-infused duck jus…good lord was this good; the smell alone was worth the price of admission.
The foie gras was just sick, and probably the best I have ever had; the texture from the sear was spot on, just enough to hold the center together long enough to melt in your mouth. It reminded me of the feeling you get from biting into a really well mold smore…without the chocolate! The duck too had tons of deep flavors and the grassy undertones from the veggies paired perfectly with the luscious sauce; this might go down on the list of my last supper/death row meals.
As most know, I am not a huge sweets fan, and I had already consumed at least 1500 calories so I was skeptical about the dessert offering. Just like the rest of the dishes that night, the toasted butter-vanilla cake with roasted pineapple layered with passion fruit caramel and vanilla cream was well prepared and beautiful to look at.
The cake was actually really light and the crisp edges were a nice texture contrast to the pillowy center and the incredibly subtlety sweet crème. The pineapples also added an unexpected sweet smokiness to round out the dish. Did I mention that Chef Wall also makes all of the desserts…
Chef Wall is obviously very talented, and the owners made a great choice with his hire. He puts his heart and soul into the food and you can see his passion, not only on the plate, but when you speak with him about technique and the ingredients he cultivates and weaves together for his dishes. I sincerely hope La Fourchette and he are gracing Atlantans with their presence for many years to come and I look forward to my next visit!