Fresh on the Scene: Revival, Little Trouble, Pea Ridge Kitchen & Bar, and Little Sheep Hot Pot

Plus an update on Holeman and Finch Public House
Cornbread at Revival
Cornbread at Revival

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

In a roomy Decatur bungalow, Gunshow’s Kevin Gillespie finally gets to pitch us his version of the South, highlighting family recipes with roots that stretch from the Appalachian Mountains to the coast. With an unerring instinct for authenticity and a mind toward simplicity, Gillespie is giving us everything we didn’t know we needed: corn fried in fatback, toasted deviled ham finger sandwiches, juicy fried chicken, and a beautiful beef and pork meatloaf wrapped in shiny bacon. Try it all with the $42 family table option, which comes with sides like tender cabbage cooked with confit ham and desserts like the fantastically light toasted vanilla pound cake crowned with peaches and cream. Whichever way you go, don’t miss Gillespie’s cornbread, which puffs to perfection in a cast-iron skillet greased with bacon fat. 129 Church Street, Decatur, 470-225-6770

Little Trouble150826_CCK_LittleTrouble_115
Head down a long hallway inside the White Provisions Building, and you’ll find this shadowy, neon-lit bar that could pass for a set in Disney’s Tron. Ian Jones and Caleb Wheelus—the owners of Victory Sandwich Bar—serve smart concoctions like the Improved Whisky Cocktail, a relative of an old-fashioned made with maraschino liqueur, absinthe, and rye whiskey. Want something lighter? Swing for the highballs like the the refreshing Jade Monkey (shochu, tequila, lime, bitter lemon soda). Melissa Allen (the group’s executive chef) helms the Asian-themed kitchen that turns out a rich, hot ramen in coconut snapper broth and fried crab dumplings. 1170 Howell Mill Road, 404-500-4737

150812_CCK_PeaRidge_126Pea Ridge Kitchen & Bar
The best chocolate icebox pie in Atlanta is here? Quite possibly. This once-grubby cafe on the edge of the perimeter has transformed into a charming refuge of Southern hospitality. Juicy hanger steak, roast lamb with whipped potatoes and Swiss chard, and flounder with pea puree and cherry tomatoes satisfy immensely. The sandwich standout is a clever banh mi stuffed with North Carolina trout and a roasted poblano aioli. Run by a cast of characters who’ve done stints at Shorty’s and Leon’s Full Service, the simple operation inspires confidence. 2607 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, 470-268-4051

Little Sheep Hot Pot150813_CCK_LittleSheepHotPot_022_PATH
The name may make you flinch, but this Mongolian hot pot is a festive treat. An all-you-can-eat format brings in the crowds, who dunk an astounding variety of foods into broths seasoned with cumin, hot pepper, and spices, bubbling in the middle of every table. Lamb, beef, ham, meatballs, fish balls, dumplings, tofu, quail eggs, crab legs, shrimp, fish, housemade noodles, bamboo shoots, fried bread, pumpkin pancakes—servers deliver it all on carts. The unlimited hot pot starts at $18.95 per person, but you can always spend more on additional dishes. 5090 Buford Highway, Chamblee

 —Christiane Lauterbach

Update: Holeman and Finch Public House (★★★ – Good)
Linton Hopkins’s gastropub has never seemed as sure of itself since the original opening team, including star bartender Greg Best, left in September 2013. Two years later, it’s still trying to find its groove. Earlier this year, the kitchen tried lowering prices and reducing portion sizes. Now they’ve redesigned the menu, abandoning small plates for a traditional appetizer-entree-dessert trajectory. Passing around dishes and fighting for elbow room has always felt right in a space no bigger than a walk-in closet, so the break from communal dining feels misguided. Standbys like pimento cheese and an uber-creamy carbonara still satisfy, but newer dishes like the hushpuppies with berry preserves (flavorless) and pork belly with green beans and cornbread (timid and overcooked) need makeovers. Cocktails are fine, though not as wondrously layered as in years past. 2277 Peachtree Road, 404-948-1175

—Evan Mah