RECOMMENDED:

The Spence
75 Fifth Street, Atlanta, GA 30344
404-892-9111, www.thespenceatl.com

The menu changes daily, so it’s difficult to make specific recommendations. Generally, small plates are more interesting than entrees, but it’s best to stick to simple dishes. Blais can go overboard now and then, but that’s the risk he takes in being a brilliant experimenter. The bone marrow is always available. If you want a cheap entrée, the burger ($12) is fantastic. Go ahead and try the decadent pineapple upside down cake with foie-gras caramel. Here’s a bargain: Go when the restaurant opens and you will get to share the employees’ meal for very little money.

The Spence was opened by Richard Blais, the city’s kinky-cooking bad-boy chef, who won the title of  “Top Chef” on Bravo’s TV show of the same name.

Ronnie was the second man who attended a supper club meal and later invited Robert on a date. He was a successful real estate agent and had an intensely extroverted style that was a bit off-putting to the comparatively introverted Robert.

This was even true in their way of dressing. Robert, a university professor, was in his usual jeans and polo shirt, while classically handsome Ronnie was in a dark, tailored suit.

He explained that he’d been at a meeting and didn’t have time to change before he picked Robert up in his Mercedes. But he had appeared at the supper club in the same kind of getup.

Robert’s starter arrived — a huge, cracked cow bone with lots of roasted marrow to spread on toast. It was somewhat strangely topped with diced tuna tartare and two fried quail eggs. Some preserved lemon broke up the velvety textures and tastes.  Meanwhile, Ronnie twirled uni-infused pasta on his fork and speared chunks of lobster.

A man who might have been Ronnie’s clone appeared at the table. Ronnie jumped up to greet him. The man extended his hand to Robert.

“I’m George,” he said enthusiastically. “I hope you’re keeping my buddy in line.”

He turned to Ronnie. “Will I see you at our meeting next week?” he asked. “I’m very excited about Paul Ryan.”

“I’ll be there,” Ronnie replied.

George headed back to his table and Ronnie explained that George was an old friend. They had been active in politics since college.

“Paul Ryan?” Robert said, feeling confused. “The mean, out-of-touch Republican vice-presidential candidate? The liar whose budget proposals make no sense and whose misogyny, racism, classism and homophobia make him the male Michele Bachmann?”

Ronnie laughed. “Yep. I’m a longtime member of the Log Cabin Republicans and we are feeling better about Romney’s candidacy since he picked Ryan, who talks about real economic change.”

Robert looked at Ronnie, waiting for a punchline.

“I’m disgusted,” he said finally. “You people really do support a party that opposes gay rights for the most part and has no hesitation in openly favoring the wealthy while it slashes support of the poor and middle class.”

Robert sliced his country-fried steak and laughed. “I’m really tired of hearing that. We don’t favor punishing the poor. We want to stop overtaxing and regulating the very people who can create jobs to employ the poor.”

“And I’m likewise sick of hearing that,” Robert snapped. “Trickle-down economics is a theory whose originator has even abandoned it. Can you give me one example – one! – when reducing taxes on the wealthy resulted in more jobs? That’s what Bush did, and you can see how well that worked.”

Robert angrily chewed a forkful of sous-vide lamb. It was good enough that he felt calmer.

Ronnie sighed. “Look, I don’t want to talk about politics, but you liberals have put the country in huge debt with your welfare programs. You complain about the huge military budget, yet your president has vastly enlarged the war. He’s….”

“I’m not defending Obama,” Robert snapped “He might as well be a Republican in many respects, but he came around to supporting gay marriage….”

“When re-election became of concern,” Ronnie interrupted. “And, by the way, who was responsible for pursuing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ until it was overturned in the courts? The Log Cabin Republicans.”

“You know,” Robert said, “you’re right. There’s no point in discussing this. We’ll never agree. If money matters more to you than anything else, vote Republican.”

“This pineapple upside down cake is outrageous,” Ronnie said. “It makes me horny. Do you want to go back to my place?”

“The only way I’d ever fuck a Republican is with a very rough, unlubricated condom,” Robert replied.

“Sounds perfect to me,” Ronnie replied.

“Another Republican masochist,” Robert said. “Imagine that.”

 


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 at www.thegavoioice.com.

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