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Atlanta is a city that looks outward far more than inward, or even nearby. Outward, say, to the Lower East Side (the General Muir’s pastrami), or to China (Gu’s Dumplings), or to France (Bread & Butterfly’s tender, airy omelets). With the glorious exception of Ryan Smith at Staplehouse, I didn’t find a posse of young, or youngish, chefs all cooking as much for each other as for the public. The priority in Atlanta is less innovation based on local ingredients, as at Staplehouse, than finding a formula that works and then pumping out food to fit it. This makes for generous, untweezed food. But it also means food that, once successful, can become rote.
Todd Richards, executive chef at the Shed at Glenwood, is opening a smokehouse and raw bar called the Pig and the Pearl this winter. Richards—who previously worked at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead—and his Shed husband-wife owners Cindy Shera and Todd Martin are revamping the old Geisha House space across from YardHouse in Atlantic Station. They are targeting a December 2013 or January 2014 opening, and will offer menu items like sausage-stuffed onion, watermelon salad, oysters, and bourbon-roasted banana pudding, in addition to straight-up barbecue like brisket and ribs. Below, Richards shares his plans for the space, the food, and more.