RECOMMENDATION:

Bantam & Biddy

This restaurant specializes in rotisserie chicken, served on the bone, in a cobb salad, turned into sausage or a pot pie. The pork schnitzel and grass-fed beef meatloaf are also good choices. 1544 Piedmont Rd (Ansley Mall), 404-907-3469, www.bantamandbiddy.com

After dinner, his friend Janet drove him home. “I saw your reaction when Lee arrived,” she said.

“Please, shut up, Janet,” Robert replied. “I don’t need to hear it.”

“Hear what?” Janet asked. “I’m just observing that, as usual, you turned away from a man obviously interested in you.”

“Merry Christmas,” Robert said, noting the Christmas tree lot at Ansley Mall.

A few days later, Robert received an email from Lee inviting him to dinner. His immediate response was to delete the mail, but he imagined the scolding he would get from Janet.

So he wrote Lee back that he’d like to join him. Lee responded that he would meet him at Bantam and Biddy, the new restaurant in Ansley Mall, at 7:30 Saturday night.

When Robert walked through the parking lot toward the new restaurant, he saw Lee standing near the door. He gulped and had an immediate impulse to turn around and get in his car. But he heard Lee shouting his name. “I’m over here, Robert!”

They shook hands and went inside. They perused the menu at the front of the restaurant where diners order. The restaurant’s name derives from the specialty here: rotisserie chicken. Still, there are other dishes on the menu, like meatloaf, fresh vegetables, a cobb salad, chicken pot pie, and pork schnitzel.

“Have you eaten here before?” Robert asked.

“A couple of times,” Lee said. “I really like it.”

“It seems kind of expensive to me for chicken,” Robert replied.

“It’s not Chick-fil-A,” Lee responded. “Everything here is local. The chickens lived very pampered lives before they were executed. And that makes them expensive.”

Robert laughed. Lee, who ordered the meatloaf, apparently knew food. Robert ordered a quarter of the rotisserie chicken. They ordered a variety of sides like mac and cheese, pickled beets with goat cheese, and fennel slaw.

“So,” Robert said as they sat down, “thanks for inviting me to dinner. This was on my list but I hadn’t made it yet. You seem to be a foodie, right?”

“I guess so,” Lee replied. “I grew up with a mother who dragged me to every restaurant in New York…and Paris, too, for that matter.”

“Wow, sounds like you had quite a privileged childhood,” Robert said. “That must have been great fun.”

“I was lucky,” Lee said. “But it wasn’t always fun. I staged quite a few tantrums in restaurants. What five-year-old wants to eat snails?”

“What do you do for a living?” Robert asked.

“I have to use the restroom,” Lee said.

When he came back a few minutes later, he asked Robert how his Thanksgiving had been and whether he was looking forward to Christmas.

“I went to Savannah for Thanksgiving with my parents,” Robert said. “It was the usual two days of mind-numbing boredom. I don’t go home for Christmas, though. I am cooking dinner for a group of friends, as always. What about you?”

“I haven’t decided,” Lee said. “I find the holiday tedious. It should only be celebrated every 10 years or so. But that would ruin the American economy, literally. Christmas even drives people to kill themselves in greater-than-usual numbers.”

“Honestly,” Robert said, “I assumed you loved Christmas. You are very handsome. You know that. Every gay man in this restaurant stared at you when we came in. I think anyone would assume you love going to all the Christmas parties.”

“Nope, not at all,” Lee replied. “I’m not anti-Christmas if it’s toned way down, like the French do. I don’t like the Fourth of July, either. Religion and nationalism are two of America’s severest defects. I do like Halloween.”

Their entrees arrived and a few minutes of silence followed as they sampled the food.

“It’s as good as you promised,” Robert said, “but I’m still curious. Can you not set aside the religious meaning of Christmas and enjoy the food, friends, and family?”

Lee shrugged. “Sure, I guess.” He looked down at his plate and ate a chunk of meatloaf.

Not long after, they said good-bye. “I enjoyed it,” Lee said. “Are you open to getting together again?”

“Sure,” Robert said, somewhat surprised. He was curious why Lee avoided telling him his occupation and seemed so generally undisclosing. But his attraction to Lee was not diminished. He would get the scoop on him somehow.

 


Food Porn is a fictional series by longtime Atlanta food critic Cliff Bostock. Set in real Atlanta restaurants, it chronicles the adventures of Robert, a gay man in search of a husband — or at least a good meal. Read the whole series here.

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