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Bantam & Biddy restaurant review, Atlanta

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Kids and restaurants: It’s a contentious topic.

I confess that I myself moved from the “I’m not paying for a nice meal to listen to your heathens” perspective to the “I just want a nice meal, too” camp when I had my own children. Funny how that happens.

Bantam & Biddy’s chef-owner Shaun Doty, father of two, identified a need in Atlanta for a place to get a good family meal for under $50. Driving back and forth to work at Yeah Burger by way of Ansley, Doty realized that there was little in between McDonald’s and Empire State South in our dining landscape.

Inspired by the mom-and-pop Belgian bistros he grew to love while training in Europe, Doty set out to create such a place, a Southern bistro of sorts, with a menu, atmosphere and price point accessible to multiple generations, tastes and needs.Jenny-Turknett-Review

At Bantam & Biddy, Doty has succeeded, crafting what he calls “a steppingstone” between fast food and fine dining. The restaurant, located in Ansley Mall, sports a casual but comfy decor, appropriate for the couples and families scattered about or the businessmen anchored at the bar with a view of the open kitchen.

Doty calls Bantam & Biddy a work in progress, recently altering the 2-month-old fast-casual concept to include table service. The menu continues to evolve as he and brother-in-law Lance Gummere merge their styles, his more simple and Gummere’s baroque. The result is a homey pop-and-bro bistro with a little something for everyone.

Both chefs bring signature dishes from their former posts. From Shaun’s, Doty brings duck-fat fries ($3.25), which have deep, rich flavor and pair well with creamy cheese curds and heady chicken gravy in the poutine ($6). The crispy panko-crusted Niman Ranch pork schnitzel ($14), which needs seasoning, also traces its roots back to Shaun’s.

Bantam & Biddy's poutine

Bantam & Biddy's poutine

And then there are the deceptively heavy-looking doughnut holes ($5), reminiscent of the ricotta zeppoles at Shaun’s. Don’t be deceived. These browned fritters, made with Izzy’s Local Cheese curds, bloom into light, barely sweetened puffs that go oh, so well with the chocolaty smooth cappuccino sauce.

The doughnut fritters are surprisingly light and not too sweet.

The doughnut holes are surprisingly light and not too sweet.

Gummere brings his chicken pot pie ($12), a dish that Doty says incites more vitriol than any other. Pot pie is one of those love-it-or-hate-it dishes. I happen to love Gummere’s take, a brothy, chicken-soup-esque dish topped with Bantam & Biddy’s signature crispy cheddar biscuits. The biscuits could use a flavor boost, but the thick pot pie full of chicken and chunky vegetables brings me right back to Sundays at my Granny’s house. The flavor and texture are dead ringers for the chicken and dumplings of my youth.

The pot pie became a menu staple as an alternate use for the abundance of chicken at the restaurant. Initially, Bantam & Biddy’s focus was on rotisserie chicken ($10 for 1/4 chicken, $14 for 1/2). Now, with a large menu, the restaurant sells a variety of entrees, becoming more the Southern bistro/meat-and-two-style joint that Doty hoped to emulate.

Yet, the moist Poulet Rouge chicken still takes prime spot at the top of the menu and is featured on the takeout family meal service Bantam & Biddy offers. Call ahead to order the meal ($42, serves three to five), which comes with a whole rotisserie chicken (or rotisserie pork or meatloaf), a salad, Alon’s jalapeño-cheddar bread, three “family-sized” sides and a half gallon of iced tea.

The meal makes the perfect healthy option for those lazy nights when no one feels like cooking. Yet, I question the portion size of sides in half-full 8-ounce containers.

The family meal makes the perfect take-home option for families.

The family meal makes the perfect take-home option for families.

Though a little skimpy to serve three to five people, they were the best part of the meal.

Sides include powerfully pickled beets tempered with goat cheese, garlicky sprigs of al dente Broccolini, roasted Brussels sprouts in a thick chickeny broth and cream-cooked speckled Anson Mills grits. The vegetable plate ($12 for four) is the way to go here.

Beyond chicken, there are Southern specialties like meatloaf ($12) made with White Oak Pastures grass-fed beef, thickened with potato flakes and given a little flavor from a sorghum and bourbon laced teriyaki sauce (“Kentuckyaki”). And it won’t just be your kids who dig the buttermilk-soaked fried chicken tenders ($12 adult), which have a thick crust and well-salted coating. In true diner style, many of the entrees come as sandwiches, on top of salads or for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

There are few places I can go to feed my family of four where a chef considers the sourcing, makes everything from scratch, offers healthy options — and all for less than $50. Throw in a cocktail or a Dogfish Head Tweason’ale ($5) and a casual vibe where the kiddos are welcome and happy, and you’ve met a need. Make it a place that would have appealed to me in my childless days as well, and you’ve scored twice.

Doty calls Bantam & Biddy “a labor of love” where “the paint’s still wet.” There’s a little tweaking to be done, but he’s on to something good.

BANTAM & BIDDY
2stars51544 Piedmont Road, Atlanta. 404-907-3469
Food: Modern Southern diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner
Service: Friendly but still learning the ropes
Best dishes: Poutine, vegetables, fried chicken tenders
Vegetarian selections: Salads, vegetable plate
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Price range: $-$$
Credit cards: All major credit cards
Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays
Children: Fine
Parking: In a busy shared lot. You may have to hunt for a space.
Reservations: No
Smoking: No
Noise level: Low
Patio: Yes, enclosed and heated in the winter
Takeout: Yes
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16 comments Add your comment

vista

January 3rd, 2013
9:47 am

I agree the sides are too small. Otherwise I like the food a lot.

AJ

January 3rd, 2013
9:53 am

I like the place, though to me it seems like a pricey place for a non-occasion meal for a family with 2 young kids. For that kind of food, I can go to Roasters on Lenox. I know there’s a price to pay for locally sourced, and I as a single person can easily afford that, but for a family of 4 with dad bringing home $75,000, Bantam & Biddy seems like it’d be a bit too expensive. $42 for that take home meal is ridiculous whether a family or a single person. That is a rip off!

nsk

January 3rd, 2013
10:30 am

“… A need in Atlanta for a place to get a good family meal for under $50… Doty realized that there was little in between McDonald’s and Empire State South in our dining landscape.”

Is this a joke?

Atlanta chefs: please, enough southern food. Believe it or not, our palates can handle something else. Do it for the kids, so their impressions of Italian and Mexican food can go beyond red sauce and queso.

Paul

January 3rd, 2013
10:41 am

We have been there twice for dinner and once for the new breakfst menu (great) – have been happy all three times. I loved the meatloaf and wanted to try the pork schnitzel but you have now talked me into trying the poutine first. Seating is a little weird – small space up front and small place in back with bar seating down the middle by the “open” kitchen. Biggest problem is parking as Ansley is regularly filled with people going to the gym in back – and with the New Years resolution crowd, that gym will be even fuller for a month or so. This has become our “dinner before the Alliance Theater” choice.

[...] Bantam & Biddy restaurant review, Atlanta [...]

Amanda

January 3rd, 2013
11:26 am

I had dinner there last night and I really WANT to love this place. Skip the pork schnitzel… texture is great but “underseasoned” inplies that there is any seasoning at all. Some wasabi honey (hello deliciousness!) helped but next time I’ll save my money and just get the chicken fingers. Also looking forward to trying the breakfast menu.

Edward

January 3rd, 2013
2:24 pm

I’ve not had a bad meal here on the 4 times I’ve visited. To me, the portion sizes are just right. I also found the schnitzel (which I had on New Years Day) to be well-seasoned, and the added onion/peanut salad on top added an extra zing. My favorite dish would be the poutine with added chicken, it makes a hearty meal on its own. I also enjoy the creative and well-made cocktails. This is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

weena

January 3rd, 2013
2:43 pm

Forget about dealing with kids, that’s the easy part. It’s the loudmouth gays that’s the problem here. Two words to the queens; talk less.
Food is ok, but it just doesn’t hit the mark for me. I’ll take the calmness of the eldergays and the non-celebrity wannabe chef at the Colonnade over this place.
Colonnade is less expensive too.
Oh hell, just call this place what it is, a gay bar with expensive snacks.

FM Fats

January 3rd, 2013
2:49 pm

I hate kids in restaurants, especially when it’s two families and the parents leave the kids to entertain themselves. Take them to CiCi’s or McDonald’s. If you’re going someplace that serves cocktails, get a sitter.

Stewart

January 4th, 2013
8:54 am

This place has become one of my staples. I find myself here at least once each week for dinner or weekend brunch. I love the gluten free options and comfortable atmosphere. Having gluten free chicken tenders, fries and meatloaf make it worth the 12 mile drive into midtown.

Maggie

January 4th, 2013
9:18 am

I wanted to love this place because Yeah Burger, while I am tired of it, was a great addition to the Highlands. Burgers have outlived their welcome, so a nice healthier alternative was exciting for this type of fast casual dining. I found the food bland, the sides underportioned, the service spotty at best AND the restaurant and kitchen were so dirty and unkempt that I considered not eating the food. Having worked/cooked in an open kitchen, I know how difficult it is to balance cleanliness and efficency – they do not do it well here. The service is slow, the kitchen is dirty and cluttered and no one working there seems to care. I’ve only visited B&B once, but I was so disgusted I doubt I’ll go back.

Rinjisherpa

January 4th, 2013
10:38 am

Portion size is a consistent problem. My poutine ($6) with chicken looked nothing like the picture. The $4 addition of chicken might have been two ounces of chicken. Similarly the $3.50 (I think) mac and cheese side was miniscule. The waiter informed us that he did not control the portions. That was helpful.

B&B Rocks

January 4th, 2013
11:38 am

Bantam and Biddy is AWESOME! The rotisserie chicken is superb!! The sides are fantastic (yes, I would love to have a bigger portion). The staff is friendly and responsive. I ADORE this place. I’ve already eaten there 4 times and will be back again soon!

Edward

January 4th, 2013
1:01 pm

I think the naysayers here have an axe to grind that is totally unrelated to the restaurant. I find the portion sizes to be just right. And the schnitzel was seasoned perfectly for me, especially with the tasty onion-peanut salad on top. I’ve been here 4 times now and have enjoyed every meal, so have the friends I’ve been with. Prices are very reasonable for the amount and quality of food. If you want the supersize portions, waddle on over to Applebees. And thank god weena is going someplace else, I’m afraid her bitterness would spill over into the food.

Paul J

January 4th, 2013
3:22 pm

It’s a great post! The food looks so yummy. But the taste of the food doesn’t depend on the appearance. I think I should try their foods 1st before I say something. Hehehehe

Baltisraul.....

January 5th, 2013
9:46 am

weena……you are an idiot!