Here’s what I had to say in the original letter:
Surprise us: I recently went to a restaurant I really like and have to say my heart sank a bit when the waitress said the soup special was butternut squash. What’s special about that? Everyone makes it. Is anyone trying a cream of turnip, or kohlrabi, or escarole, or carrot with cumin, or Sea Island red pea with country ham, or wild lamb’s quarters with black cardamom and ginger, or …
Here’s why I think Phalen exemplifies this quality:
The food that comes from the kitchen at One Eared Stag is not the most finessed or consistent. You can’t be guaranteed that a dish you loved on one visit will taste the same two weeks later. And those intriguing dares — hello, fried chicken necks — may best be appreciated as such. But this I promise: You will smile from ear to ear. Have a braised, then deep-fried, rabbit leg and delight in the way its succulent meat and keeeeee-runchy crust plays against a sharp little salad of parsley, onion and capers. Try some grilled sardines and discover their split insides filled with an unforgettable paste of arugula, black garlic and lemon zest. Phalen, who previously surprised us with the menu at East Atlanta’s Holy Taco, cooks with a kind of sloppy, unfettered, undisciplined and totally winning creativity. Hit this restaurant at the right time, and you’ll discover a kind of garage-band mojo — a sound you haven’t heard anywhere else.