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Opening night at HD1

IMG_1541Though I’m not usually in the habit of eating anywhere on opening night, proximity and curiosity got the best of me, and I couldn’t resist heading over to HD1 in Poncey-Highland yesterday for its first night open to the public. For those who haven’t heard, HD1 – once rumored to debut as Haute Doggery – is the newest joint venture between Richard Blais and Barry Mills of Flip Burger.

Aside from Mr. Blais chatting it up with a few patrons, the first thing I see as I walk through the door is a large blackboard-style menu. Other than a few leaked recommendations in interviews, there has been no menu available online, so this is really my first chance to see what HD1’s food is going to be all about.

No matter how much they may try to distance the two restaurants, comparisons between Flip and HD1 are inevitable. The space, also designed by ai3, is strikingly darker than either Flip location, but keeps with the communal tables and hipster friendly soundtrack. The low lighting, wood paneling, and deep-red accents give this more of a bar feel than Flip, and may have had something to do with my sampling of my fair share of their craft cocktail selection.

HD1 seems less dedicated to “hot dogs” than Flip is to burgers, but does not lack in the creative combinations and re-working of ingredients and techniques on which Blais has made his name. Only two of the choices on the “Stuff” section of the menu actually qualify as a hot dog, while the majority are a range of sausages, like the Chicken-apple ($6), lamb Merquez ($7), and the “Kenturky” ($5) topped with bacon, mornay sauce, and tomato-pimento marmalade.

I didn’t get the chance to try them all, but I did sample my friend’s Red haute dog ($6) topped with brisket chili, pepper jack foam, and Vidalia IMG_1533onion. I wasn’t feeling generous enough to reciprocate with bites of my Beef pastrami dog ($7), keeping the topping of ox tongue and tripe hash and Russian dressing for myself. Each dog I sampled arrived folded in a thick slice of toasted brioche instead of a traditional bun.

The sure-to-rotate list of appetizers include choices like the lemon curd and Szechuan pepper chicken wing confit ($7) or the Deviled ham in eggs ($3), country ham filled deviled eggs served on a bed of crushed spicy potato chips. We stuck with apps and sausages, but I’m interested to return for one of their entrees like the fried chicken liver plate ($8) with mustard greens and hot sauce, or the Roasted wild striped bass ($12). I did polish off my meal with a cup of vanilla soft-serve ice cream with a dusting of sea salt and charcoal dust. Yes, you read the right. I said charcoal dust.

And before you ask…no, I did not see any liquid nitrogen.

Whether good or bad, I don’t make judgments (and especially don’t write them) so soon after any new restaurant opens their doors, but I plan to return to see how things evolve. Did any of our loyal commenters check it out last night?

664 N. Highland Ave NE,Atlanta. www.hd1restaurant.com, $

- By Jon Watson, Food and More blog

14 comments Add your comment

Hungry Gringo

September 23rd, 2011
8:27 am

What’s up with the Atari-esque logo?

RK

September 23rd, 2011
9:16 am

Ah…the Kenturkey is a hot brown…

Was it extremely crowded?

RK

September 23rd, 2011
9:33 am

I tried to go for lunch yesterday, but it isn’t open for lunch yet, apparently. Wish that was better publicized…

ATLBadger

September 23rd, 2011
10:13 am

Sounds like a trendy take on Hot Dougs in Chicago.

L*K

September 23rd, 2011
10:15 am

These two guys are soo highly over-rated. Why don’t you mention all of Blais resturants that were total bust? This place seems like a jacked up 5 guys.

carla roqs

September 23rd, 2011
10:46 am

blais comes across as being very likeable when he interacts with other professionals on cooking shows. i enjoyed watching him on the tellie and i sorta enjoyed flip burger. it will be interesting to read the next review on this restaurant before i try it. nice article, jon. you are much braver that i am–tripe and tongue on a hotdog? wow. the chicken livers sound as “exotic”, ha, as i could go.

RK

September 23rd, 2011
10:52 am

Badger: we can only hope…Hot Doug’s is awesome.

AJ

September 23rd, 2011
11:20 am

@L*K – Why mention his failures? Those have nothing to do with this restaurant. Though since you brought it up, his failures seem more attributable to his creativity being ahead of diners’ tastes. He seems to have tempered his creativity and now has success (3 Flip locations). We’ll see how The Spence is as this will be more of “his” restaurant since he’ll be doing more cooking. But again, this blog post is about HD1, not Blais’ past.

SP

September 23rd, 2011
11:53 am

Looking forward to checking this place out! Sounds very creative, and I love that about Blais!

carla roqs

September 23rd, 2011
12:31 pm

i have a feeling l*k is a jealous ‘chef’

FoodFan

September 23rd, 2011
3:43 pm

If you watched his performance on Top Chef, it seemed like – while he still incorporated a good bit of the tricks with the foams & liquid nitrogens – he had a MUCH lighter hand with them & had a larger focus on simpler foods. He seems to have matured as a chef and while he knows that he’ll always draw the people interested in the liquid nitrogen, he realizes that he also needs to appeal to the masses with ingredient-driven cuisine with fewer tricks. Places like this HD1 & Flip allow him to go a bit wilder (he is only limited to what he can fit between a bun) but I look forward to his tempered hand at the Spence.

Baltisraul

September 25th, 2011
9:07 am

A Kentucky Hot Brown is about the best sandwich in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Looks Yummy

September 26th, 2011
11:19 am

What item is shown in the picture?

[...] of the hot dog lineup.  The Food Abides put out his thoughts about his opening night visit.  And thanks to catlike curiosity, so too did the AJC’s Jon [...]