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Located just off Howell Mill Road in Midtown, Abattoir is part of the Star Provisions restaurant group and the latest dining venture by chefs/owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison. These are the same folks who brought us Floataway Cafe and the highly lauded Bacchanalia. I’ve now been to Abattoir several times since it’s opening just about a year ago, so I feel it’s high time to get a review of Abattoir up. I really do love the development over in the West Midtown area. We’ve now got Bocado, Miller Union and Ormsby’s to open recently. And it seems new places are springing up all the time over in West Midtown. All that area needs a couple ethnic joints and it will be hopping.
On my first visit to Abattoir, I couldn’t have been more excited. I love the name; translation: Slaughterhouse although the French name is much more appealing. It is very fitting as Abattoir serves just about every part of the animal (tongue, liver, tripe, you name it), but did you know the building once used to be a slaughterhouse? I also love the fact that there is free parking in the deck adjacent to Abattoir’s building. Walking past the sign (crossed butcher knives) and entering Abattoir’s dimly lit interior for the first time, I was pleasantly greeted by the hostess, who immediately showed us to our table outside.
I like the bar in the front and center. It almost seems more cozy than a table, except super difficult to read the menu. The lighting they have around the bar and really throughout the restaurant isn’t adequate for reading the menu at Abattoir. The staff knows this as they have little flashlights they carry around in their pockets in case a guest needs it. This isn’t the 20something crowd. This seems to be an over 40 crowd. And they don’t want or need to be reminded that their eyesight is going downhill.
Bartenders are super friendly and know the menu inside and out. Brian even mixed up a special drink for me, that may now even be on the menu at the time of this post. It is a pear infused congac drink. It was the perfect finish to our dinner. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start back at the first visit.
On my first visit, I went with a French friend. I thought if anyone would know if the food was authentic, he would. We tended to stick to the mixed drinks: Moscow Mule, Pimm’s Garden Cup, Elderflower Gimlet. Most of the specialty drinks at Abattoir tend to be either very sweet, ie, Pimm’s Garden Cup, or pretty sour like the Moscow Mule or Gimlet. So, just be aware, there really isn’t a happy medium. My next visit, I chose wine instead.
We started off with the rabbit rillettes, which he gave the nod to. This “food in a jar” as Abattoir likes to call it, is just that, a cold mix of meat, spices and fat. You spread it on crusty bread of which Abattoir will give you plenty. And it was tasty, with much more flavor that I would have expected.
Although French, my friend didn’t go for anything out of the ordinary, and stuck with the Trout. He cleaned his plate and seemed pleased with his meal. I’m more of an adventurous eater and decided to go for lamb liver fritters. With the name “fritter” I assumed there would be more breading and less “liver” especially at a price point of only $8, but I was profoundly shocked at just how much liver was included. If you are a fan of chicken livers, then you must try to the lamb liver fritters. The fries I ordered to go with the fritters were plentiful, but not as crisp as I would have hoped for.
On a follow up visit, was sad to see Belles Oberon not on tap any longer, the replacement is not as good. Only 4 wines by the glass was slightly disappointing as well. However, I did overhear a couple of women who work at Anis remark how surprised they were at how affordable the wine list is.
Other Abattoir dinners included no offal but did include scallops and short ribs. The 3 large scallops were cooked well, nicely flavored, and completely filling. The side of curried greens that accompanied the scallops was sublime. Really delicious and would be great by itself as a vegetarian offering. The short ribs were decent, but very heavy on the salt. It is too bad as they were so tender. If the salt had been a tad less it could have been a standout meal.
I’d just like to preface the following paragraph by saying I’m usually not this picky or difficult. Desserts started out with the sundae. Very odd presentation and not sweet enough. So, I exchanged this for something the bartender recommended. Not sure the name but it was ice cream on top of a bitter chocolate cake. I then traded this in for the rice pudding.
This was better although a bit weird. The berries were served on the side as was the almond milk. I don’t know why you would pour it on top as it would make it much colder. But back to the rice pudding. It was not like any rice pudding I’ve ever had before. This was like baked into a creme brulee more than anything. Def better than the first dessert, although they all seemed rather bland, boring and 100% forgettable.
I really wanted to love Abattoir, but so far I’m on the fence. The food is interesting, but definitely not some place you would take someone who isn’t much of an adventurous eater. The decor is trendy. It kind of reminds of a modernized looking farmhouse if that makes any sense. All the while, prices seem reasonable but it is important to remember how cheap these offal parts really are. Way back when, these were the parts of the animal poor people ate cause that’s all they could afford. Now they are being presented to us as haute cuisine. I’m just saying…
1170 Howell Mill Rd
Atlanta, GA 30318
404 892 3335
Extras: Free parking in the deck adjacent to the building (love not having to deal with valet!)
Restaurant.com lists Abattoir as “Downtown” but don’t be fooled this is in West Midtown off Howell Mill.