Saturday, May 15, 2010

Serpas True Food

659 Auburn Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30312

Serpas meets every single one of my qualifications for a great restaurant. Amazing food, creative and delicious bar menu, beautiful surroundings, reasonable prices, and, most importantly, walking distance from my house.

I read about Serpas in Atlanta Magazine's 2010 "Cheap Eats" issue. It was listed in the "Restaurant" sidebar of the burger section (as opposed to "Burger Joint"). For $14, Serpas offers an astoundingly delicious double bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries. And unlike some actual Atlanta burger joints, they cook their burgers to order (wait for that rant in my review of Farm Burger in Decatur. Those hippies can kiss my raw-meat loving ass).

With burgers in mind, I made reservations for Friday night with Roommate Lynn and Friend Sarah. The first things that made me like the restaurant are that it is on Open Table (please take note, Kevin Rathbun), and that they called the afternoon of to confirm my reservation. As someone who has shown up to a restaurant and been confronted with a "missing" reservation, I do appreciate the phone call.

The restaurant is pretty, and basically unadorned and modern, except for the hands coming out of the wall above the bathroom sink. I'm just not a fan of reaching hands. It's a loud room, so I would never go there for a romantic date, but for a group of fans it was a jovial atmosphere, with music low enough as to go unnoticed.

Start with the bar men. This is important. Serpas has a menu full of delicious and imaginative cocktails. I highly recommend the Half Moon Limeade, which was fresh, alcoholic limeade with muddled jalapeno at the bottom of the glass. It was only slightly spicy, but very, very refreshing.

For appetizers, we split the Eggplant Hushpuppies and the Texas Crab Toast. The toast was on very good bread, with lots of lump crab meat and chipolte aioli. The hushpuppies were absolutely something to write home about. Very fresh and soft eggplant, rolled in a ball and pan, not deep, fried, drizzled with blue cheese and red gravy. Even Friend Sarah, who is not a big fan of blue cheese, gobbled them up. The were delicate and flavorful and a perfect starter. My only complaint was that there were only four and I was forced to share one. I am known for my greediness.

Friend Sarah and I both went for the burgers. It's a small in circumference but very tall double burger with smoked cheddar and applewood smoked bacon. All of the ingredients were excellent, but the real star of the dish was the red wine dressing. It was delicious and unique and gave the meat a fresh, unusual flavor. The only off note was the fries, which were served in a tall cup with paper. I'm not a fan of this presentation method. I understand that it looks cute and the paper soaks up the grease, but I always feel like fries server this way cool too quickly.

Roommate Lynn had the mussels, actually off of the appetizer menu, with a side of fries. The mussels were more than enough for an entree for one. They were fresh and all open, served in a beer froth.

Most of the desserts at Serpas are paired with wine or liqueur suggestions. I had friend apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a pairing of honey bourbon liqueur.  Friend Sarah had a fresh strawberry ice cream and Roommate Lynn had Bananas Fosters profiteroles,  and we learned that she had no idea what a profiterole is beforehand. All the desserts were exquisite. The apple was very lightly fried and of an appropriate size for an adult.

We all enjoyed our food, but agreed that the menu was interesting and varied enough that we would all want to try new dishes on a second visit. I am particularly excited about the jumbo sea scallops served with panang curry. The menu does change slightly day to day, but seems to have many standards. I was especially impressed by the amount of seafood options and the lightness of many of the preparations. Out of only 10 options, seven were fish or shellfish, and most came with low starch, fresh vegetables as sides. Someone on a restricted diet could do very well with the Serpas menu.

The prices are also just right. A single burger with fries is only $11, and the most expensive menu item, a 16 ounce K.C. strip is only $25, which beats steak house prices. I would imagine, that save a few exceptions in this city, it would also win in quality.

Our dinners weren't necessarily perfect, and neither was our service, but overall I had a fantastic time at Serpas. It's delicious, smart food that hits most price points and tastes. The bar menu is excellent and the atmosphere is comfortable. I'll definitely be back and give Serpas True Food a "Fuck yes!"

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