Midway Pizza: The yin to Ancorra's yang (or vice versa, Atlanta rappers not being a strong suit of this writer). Midway is a loud, brashy spot serving out an homage to Chicago's deep dish take on pizza. Where the focus at Ancorra is less is more, at Midway more is not enough. And the philosophy at both works. We started with a House Salad, which was thankfully dressed perfectly with a barely there Champagne vinaigrette. The polenta croutons need to be reworked, ours arrived leaden and tasting of grease. A decent opening salvo, now onto the 'Za. The #18 stole the show with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onion and green pepper. I expected the meatballs on the King Leon to be overcooked and dry, but what came forth were juicy, plump, and delicious. The crust at Midway is a khaki colored, two inch deep crispy bowl for the toppings it delivers. This may not be pizza you are used to, but it is worth finding out for sure. A very solid beer list anchors what may be one of the city's best spots to grab a beer and some pies. Birdie.
Fat Hen Grocery: The corner of Cherokee and St. Charles has gone through roughly seventy-four ownership changes in the last few years. But there is hope that the most recent opening of the Fat Hen brand by Chef Shane Pritchett is here to stay. First, the interior tugs on a carnivore's heartstrings with a wall portraying every cut from a chicken, pig, and beef. Plus, over the bar there rests a Warhol painted pig. Moving our eyes from the walls to the plate, we gazed upon a Seersucker platter strewn with smoked sausage, creamy pimento cheese, thick slices of raw onion, celery, carrots and pickles. Bringing all this together are gaufrettes of potato as thin as newspaper. The barbecue sauce, available for purchase this being a grocery, is spicy and sharp. The tree hugger omelet would have been improved with a crustier English muffin and larger chunks of crabmeat. The pulled pork was smoky and well-seasoned but a toss in the barbecue sauce rather than it just drizzling on bun would have put this sandwich up there with the Muffaletta and the Po Boy. Par/Birdie.
Baru: A nice fall night sitting outside with a bottle of Torrontes and 2005 Rioja set up an incredible dinner. Plus, how can you match the ambiance of sitting next to a couple who decided 8 pm on a Saturday night was a good time to take a one year old and a two year old out to dinner? But the food more than made up for that glitch. First came, those incredibly light and crisp empanadas, plumped with ground beef and graced by chimichurri. Then the savory mazorca, a corn casserole of sorts that may have just gained a spot at the Thanksgiving table. Next, the ceviche, the black drum firm and the avocado adding richness against the acidic leche de tigre. The fried oysters did not disappoint either with a crisp crust and creamy interior crowned by a tuft of caramelized onions. The arepas were a misfire with dry pork and chalky corn cakes. But the mixed grill with chorizo, shrimp, and skirt steak sitting atop a loose but vibrant chimichurri made the arepa misstep nothing but a distant memory. Baru is the best BYOB in the city, and a dinner for two at $86 with tax and tip makes it a culinary jewel. Birdie/Eagle.