There are only a few certainties in life: Death. Taxes. The fact that locally-grown strawberries always taste better than the ones at the grocery store. How many times have you picked out a carton of strawberries at the grocery store, tempted by their plumpness and scarlet hue, only to sink your teeth into one and discover that it tastes like . . . nothing? No sweetness, no juiciness. Fortunately, Atlanta’s chefs and bartenders are aware of this certainty, too, and many of them source locally-grown strawberries from farms like Rodgers Greens & Roots and Georgia Proud Provisions. They also know how to make the most of these fleeting fruits that will probably be gone by June.
For Little Bear’s Jarrett Stieber, buying local berries is a no brainer. “It really is like night and day. There’s almost no flavor in commodity strawberries in comparison,” says Stieber who sources strawberries from a couple of farms including Woodland Gardens.
Local berries are almost syrupy, he says, the sugar tastes more concentrated, and they’re simply juicier. “They’re not picked underripe and like gassed along the way to look red when they show up at the grocery store. So they’re actually bursting with sugary, sweet juices, but there’s also a nice acidity to them that isn’t present as much, as well,” he says. “So I feel like they have more of a balanced flavor that’s more of what you actually expect a strawberry to taste like. You know?”
Oh, yes, we do know.
Here are 11 dishes and drinks that have made the most of Georgia’s strawberry haul. Their season is fleeting, so you’ll have to hurry up if you want to catch these treats before they’re gone.
Strawberry Tart at The Buttery
Jen Yee oversees the pastry program for Hopkins & Co. (C. Ellet’s, Hop’s Chicken, etc.) and sells daily pastries out of The Buttery, the storefront adjacent to the restaurant group’s commissary. She’s a pro at using seasonal produce, and that’s especially true during strawberry season, when the berries make appearances in several of the Buttery’s treats like a strawberry tart, strawberry-coconut toast, and cornmeal almond cakes. The offerings change often, but keep an eye on Yee’s Instagram, where she posts updates often.
Retropolitan at The Betty
Located in the recently opened Kimpton Sylvan, the Betty is a midcentury modern throwback with a fun approach to drinks. The Retropolitan is a sweet, easy-to-sip tipple that combines strawberry-infused Aperol, vodka, Triple Sec, and lime.
Strawberry bruschetta at Southern Belle
At Southern Belle, Chef Joey Ward has used strawberries to make one of the most creative amuse bouches ever. Presented as grandma’s candy bowl, (you know, a crystal bowl filled with those mysterious strawberry hard candies) the amuse bouche consists of “candies” made of strawberry juice infused with black peppercorns, cardamom, dried orange peel, basil, sugar, and barrel-aged strawberry vinegar that’s been frozen in candy molds. The candies are then dipped in cocoa butter and slowed to thaw which gives them a liquid center that bursts with strawberry flavor when eaten. The bowl is served alongside sliced green strawberries and Decimal Place goat cheese on crostini. As Ward explains, the candy is to be eaten first, followed by the crostini to create a strawberry bruschetta.
Strawberry croissant at The Chastain
The strawberry croissant at the Chastain is a dreamboat of a pastry. A flaky, buttery croissant is filled with house-made strawberry jelly and topped with a vanilla bean-white chocolate whipped cream and adorned with crispy strawberry pearls. Is it Instagrammable? Yes. But is it delicious? Also yes. It’s only available on Friday mornings, so set a calendar reminder to get in line early.
Angangueo at Bar Margot
Smoky strawberry? Yes, please. That’s what Andrew Holzemer concocted at Bar Margot in the Four Seasons Atlanta. Mezcal, strawberries soaked in Campari, and vermouth come together for a drink that’s reminiscent of a Negroni.
Chocolate torte at Little Bear
A slice of chocolate torte topped with strawberry jam that’s been spiced with cinnamon and black pepper is an ideal way to end a spring-forward meal at Little Bear. To make the jam, Little Bear’s chefs simply heat and cool down the berries (without really adding anything besides the spices) which results a thick, jammy texture. If the torte isn’t enough, strawberries make appearances throughout the Little Bear menu. They’re in the El Presidente Fernando cocktail along with rum, Triple Sec, and vermouth, as well as a relish of pickled strawberries and black olives that will top off dry-fried broccoli.
Lemon cornmeal trifle at Table & Main
Lemon and strawberry are an iconic duo, so it’s nice to see them come together at Table & Main in downtown Roswell. There, they’ve prepared a trifle composed of cornmeal cake, lemon cream, strawberries, and whipped cream, served in a jar for extra cuteness.
Foie gras terrine at Spring
Spring is going the sweet-savory route with their use of strawberries. Their foie gras terrine is plated is served with mostarda made of yellow mustard seeds, red wine vinegar, and strawberry-rhubarb consume. The dish is plated with strawberries tossed in the mostarda, pistachio puree, and thinly sliced rhubarb. Warm house-baked brioche is waiting for you to spread that terrine on top of it.
Burrata at Nick’s Westside
Creamy burrata and sweet strawberries are a perfect match, but Nick Leahy took it up a notch by adding a ramp chimichurri and house ham for good measure. Served with ciabatta and best enjoyed on the patio (that’s our advice, anyway).
Dirty Chico at Gilly Brew Bar
Stone Mountain’s Gilly Brew Bar is known for their coffee “elixirs” but this one is sans-java. The Dirty Chico is a playful soda that combines Topo Chico with strawberry shrub (though other options are available). The “dirty” part is the spice blend that they apply to the mouth of the bottle.
Strawberry Ginger Daiquiri at El Super Pan
Channel the tropics at Ponce City Market with El Super Pan’s drink. The frozen drink combines strawberry puree, rum, and ginger for a drink that’s ice cold, sweet, and zesty.