After one failed attempt, I finally got the chance to eat at Holeman & Finch, and man, what I’ve been missing. Named the best restaurant of the year by Creative Loafing, Holeman & Finch calls itself a “public house”, which they say is a “social gathering place where class, status, and reservations did not exist”. So there’s that.
I would describe HF more as a gastromeatpub (to use the parlance of our time) with a dash of Porsche, cuff links, and flannel – if you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.
HF is on Peachtree right next door to Cafe Eugene, the fantastic new south restaurant created by celebrity chef Linton Hopkins. I say fantastic, but I’ve never been there. But I have drooled over their menu, including the very cool looking Sunday supper meal, more than a few times. Eugene is high on “the list”. HF is in a small space, but it’s quite cool. The decor shines with dark colors, deep wood tones, and aged hangin meat (so….many….jokes) proudly displayed behind glass. The facade seems to fit the clientele well – a good mix of well dressed financiers and tattered hipsters.
We went at about 9:30 at night, and there was no wait, but the small space was definitely not empty. We had a tiny table for two against the window facing the valet, so we had some good people watching while we waited for our drink order.
Along with the one sheet sized paper menus, they had a drink menu printed on paper laminated purposely (probably) shoddy on both sides of a piece of misshaped cardboard. It’s exhausting how much effort they exerted to prove they didn’t care about the appearance of the menu. In the picture above you can barely see some of the beers listed.
You probably can’t see much of the specialty cocktail menu above, but it was very unique and thought out. I ordered the Johnny Ryall, because it had Miller High Life in it (along with cherry liqueur and grapefruit juice), and because it’s the name of a badass song from the best album by the Beastie Boys (Paul’s Boutique). For $5, it was well worth it. It was something different, very refreshing, with a nice thick head on it.
We ordered four small plates as our meal. The plan was to potentially order a few more afterwards, but that was a farce. Our waiter Jordan was more than helpful and didn’t roll his eyes once while helping Katie find vegetarian options at a restaurant that specializes in house cured meat.
Dish one – heirloom tomatoes with basil, red onion, evoo, and balsamic. Good but nothing special. Though, I guess I should just be happy I am still eating heirlooms in October.
This was my jam. The house cured meat plate. All for me. Here is my guess at what all this was (some of them I know for sure). They are ordered in my preference. But let me first indicate that it was all awesome. I’ve never had a charcuterie (salumi, whatev) plate like this before. It really blew my mind.
#1 – Thin sliced cured ham – tasted a lot like country ham but only 45 times better
#4 – Shredded pork belly – when eaten with #5 (homemade pickles) this tasted like a rich and decadent pulled pork sandwich.
#3 – Kind of like pepperoni, but waaaaay more depth
#6 – The texture was very much like prosciutto, great fat marbling
#7 – Great salami textured with caraway seeds
#2 – No idea what this was – was kind of in between #1 and #6 in terms of texture and taste
A whole roasted head of garlic topped with chevre, served with toasted baguette. The waiter recommended we turn the garlic head upside down and squeeze out all the garlic cloves. It ruled.
The three cheese plate. The brie was some of the best I’ve ever had. Extremely gooey with great flavor. The middle cheese, I dunno what it was, and didn’t care to ask. The blue style cheese was fantastic. It was a huge, salty, bitter yet creamy block of veiny cheese that we couldn’t finish.
No, thank you. We will be seeing each other again shortly. While I don’t want to give the impression that everything was perfect (for example, we could have use a larger table or they could have staggered the serving of the plates), I know what all the buzz is about. If you like this style of food – rough around the edges with unabashed creativity, raw appeal, and aged pork, then you definitely gotta give it a shot.