Friday, December 9, 2011

No. 246

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When I heard that Chef Ford Fry, of JCT Kitchen fame, was partnering with Chef Drew Belline from Floataway Cafe, I knew they were going to create something special. I was so right. No. 246, named after the plot of land that it occupies in downtown Decatur, has Italian inspired food with a Northern Californian sensibility. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a preview dinner at No. 246 before they opened and they have just continued to get better each time I've been back.

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I love the design of the space, it's bright and open, with a rustic farmhouse feel. There are so many neat focal points like the giant vintage fans over the bar and the hand-blown light bulb fixtures as big as your head. The artwork on the walls mostly features farm animals, the trio of sheep above were hung opposite the impressive built-in wine cabinet.

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The tableware is as visually interesting as the rest of the decor, glasses that looks like the bottom half of a wine bottle, handmade ceramic dishes stamped with hearts and stars on the bottom, rough-hewn wooden troughs displaying crusty bread and glass jars full of delicious spreads.

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Bread Service
Speaking of bread, you may be tempted to fill up on it's crusty goodness, but don't dive in immediately, instead wait and order one of the artisanal cheeses & meats. The menu features a changing selection of goodies like La Quercia Prosciutto and local charcuterie favorite Pine Street Market.
 
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La Quercia Prosciutto
I would also strongly recommend checking out the "Toasts" section on the menu, if they have the house-made pork rillettes with grain mustard, order it, you will be glad you did. I have had it in several different incarnations and my favorite came with tangy pickled fennel on the side, but no matter how they're serving it on a given night, it will be amazing.

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Crispy Fior di Latte fried Mozzarella & Olives, Herbs, Marinara
I could easily make a meal just grazing on their starters. From the Toasts to the salads, all change seasonally, and you can expect to find roasted baby root vegetables draped across tender lettuces or African squash soup topped with sweet-crunchy almond brittle. However, if I did that, I would be missing out on their incredible pastas.

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Spaghetti with Georgia White Shrimp, Garlic, Pequin Chilies, Breadcrumbs, Parsley
One of my favorite pastas is their spaghetti with shrimp, it has a little kick from the chilies, but mostly the focus is on perfectly cooked just-pulled-from-the-water GA shrimp. Another dish that is hard to pass up is the Pappardelle Carbonara, what makes their version special is the breaded and fried poached egg the perch atop the housemade pasta. I'm not sure how you deep fry a poached egg and still keep a perfectly runny center, but somehow they have pulled off this little piece of kitchen magic.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta @ No 246
Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Lemon-Ginger Marmalade and Candied Lemon Zest
Lest I neglect another important aspect of the dining experience, let me just state that the service here ranges from good to excellent. The servers and management all go out of their way to make sure that you leave happy, even if you arrive in the foulest of moods after battling Atlanta traffic. Previously, the only complaint I had about this place was the noise level, if you went when they were busy, which was always, you could expect to lose your voice screaming your order at your server and conversing with your companions. However, I am thrilled to announce that they have recently installed sound panels on the ceiling and I can't wait to get in and hear the improvement. 



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You can reserve one of the stools on the right at the Chef's Counter for a prixe fix 5 course meal with a great view of the kitchen, 2 seatings nightly, and a real steal at only $50  

No. 246
129 E. Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA, 30030
678-399-8246