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One month ago Eyhab “Happy” Hatab quietly took over the executive chef position vacated by Shane Devereux at Barcelona Wine Bar in Inman Park. In a short time period, Hatab has since changed the restaurant’s menu, as well as its approach to cooking.
Open for less than a year, the Lawrence—a highly anticipated Midtown restaurant and bar by Top FLR veteran Darren Carr and Dinner Party Atlanta founder Patrick La Bouff—is already on its third chef. Shane Devereux (also from Top FLR and its sister gastropub/club Sound Table) was the opening chef. Then Jonathan St. Hilaire, previously a pastry chef and owner of the now-defunct Bakeshop, took the reigns in November 2012. Now, St. Hilaire is gone, and Jeff Sigler, who worked alongside Richard Blais at Element, is in charge.
Earlier this year, we announced that Shane Devereux was leaving his position as executive chef of TOP FLR of Sound Table but remaining partner at the Lawrence. Devereux now says that he's no longer involved in day to day operations at The Lawrence, the much-hyped new Midtown restaurant that opened earlier this year. Starting November 9, Devereux will head to Cumberland Island to do a month-long stint at the Greyfield Inn.
Shane Devereux confirmed today that he's left his position as executive chef at TOP FLR to join Peasant Bistro as partner and executive chef. Devereux had been a central role of a growing group of restaurants that include TOP FLR, the Sound Table, and, most recently, the Lawrence. Devereux explained that disagreements with TOP FLR and Sound Table co-owner Jeff Myers were part of his decision to leave. He remains a partner of the Lawrence.
Patrick La Bouff is easy to pick out among the already-teeming crowds at the Lawrence. He's the guy with tousled hair somewhere between the color of straw and honey, usually wearing jeans and a bow tie, scuttling between tables and bodies and appearing everywhere at once. He may be sorting through the next wave of reservations on his iPad, surveying the dining room for empty seats, and then bussing a vacated two-top. There he is conferring with the chef in the kitchen, now behind the bar, now delivering appetizers, and immediately at the front again, greeting new arrivals. When he sees a familiar face, his normally taut smile relaxes for a moment into a lopsided grin.
Part of what made Top Flr special when it opened in the summer of 2007, around the corner from Mary Mac’s Tearoom, was its ingenious floor plan: a sliver of a bar and a mysterious dining room accessible by a steep staircase that hid behind a narrow, monochromatic facade. It looked like it belonged in London or Dublin. The interior was mod and dark. And even though there was nothing terribly clever about the food, the dishes felt lean and elemental. The prices were great, too, and the bartenders knew how to keep the clientele interested.