This week, we’re going to take a brief look at two restaurants. They are inexpensive and quirky. One of them will happily get you drunk.
Feedel Bistro: This Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant is near the intersection of Clairmont and Briarcliff, a neighborhood populated with many Ethiopians. Feedel is owned by a brother-and-sister team, under the culinary direction of their mother, who is from Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia on the south. My favorite dish is “Mom’s Special Gomen Be’Siga.” Basically, this is cubed lamb stewed with collards in a buttery sauce seasoned in a way too complicated and too secret to disclose. You pick the greens and tender meat up with a chunk of injera, the ubiquitous, spongy, porous bread capable of filling your stomach just about instantly. Feel free to ask for a fork, because you don’t want injera to cause you to leave a single collard leaf behind.
The lega tips were nearly as good. It’s made with super-tender beef or lamb cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and jalapeños, then finished with rosemary and seasoned butter that pools extravagantly on one side of the plate. Our third dish was a collection of five vegetables, like collards and lentils, that were cooked with a clarity I’ve seldom encountered in other Ethiopian venues. We had very few tastes of super-spiciness.
The restaurant is small and decorated with portraits of women in festival gear. If you have to wait for a table, walk a few doors down to Therapy, a coffeehouse/bar/hookah lounge also operated by Feedel’s owners.
Boxcar: I used to love beer, but the police decided I should stop drinking it after an epic episode several decades ago. But, if I still drank, I’d be a regular at the Lee + White complex in Atlanta’s West End. It’s a gigantic, former railroad facility that houses breweries and retailers, including Hop City Craft Beer and Wine.
Hop City recently opened a mammoth restaurant, Boxcar, above its retail operation. It’s on the BeltLine, which is good since you can briskly stagger there until you get sober. The menu, developed by executive chef Matt Hutchins, is surprisingly comprehensive and affordable. Two friends ordered “hand-held” dishes (aka sandwiches). One was a cheesesteak made with grilled ciabatta, shaved ribeye, caramelized onions, fontina cheese, kale-almond pesto, and garlic aioli. The other was a two-patty burger on a brioche bun with maple-cured bacon, beer-battered onion rings, pickles, and a plum barbecue sauce. Both rated well.
I ordered my own entrée from the starter menu, “Mary’s Little Lamb Sliders,” made with surprisingly firm Hawaiian rolls, tzatziki, peach jam, mint, and grilled red onions. As usual everywhere, the lamb patties were heavily seasoned, so that the meat’s actual taste is virtually in the background. Nonetheless, these were among the best I’ve encountered. I also ordered a salad of roasted, thinly sliced beets topped with frisee, goat cheese, fennel-caper gremolata, almonds, and a lemon vinaigrette. It was, appropriately, a delicious mess. And speaking of messy food, we also ordered a starter of wild mushroom poutine. The shrooms were in a thick brown gravy with cheese curds. The foundational fries turned quickly limp, but that’s the deal with poutine. It’s a big bowl of adult baby food.
Other possibilities include intriguing lamb and pumpkin polenta; fried chicken morsels with sweet potato fries, black sesame, matcha salt, and “blistered” shishitos peppers; duck prosciutto with frisee, candied figs, smoked buttermilk dressing, black radishes, and rye croutons.
Service is good, although the kitchen was slammed and we had a long wait for our second course. The server brought us a complimentary bowl of almonds and olives. The most intriguing aspect of the décor is its monumental dimensions and a huge graffiti-style portrait of an infamous “hobo.”
3125 Briarcliff Road
1000 White Street