The Dish of the Week column is not about life-changing, knock-your-socks-off, once-in-a-lifetime dishes. Rather, it celebrates the dishes and restaurants that are often overlooked. Or dishes that happen to be a great value. Sometimes, it’s a plate that’s perfect for the season, or for the general mood of the city. You can’t have the best dish of your life every single week, but you can eat something that feels perfect for this week.
Here are five of our favorite Dishes of the Week that we featured in 2018.
Botiwalla Lamb Burgers
Let’s face it: Lamb burgers are in a bit of a rut. They show up often on menus, yet they all seem to pull from the same pool of Mediterranean flavors. Feta, olives, cucumber and tzatziki sauce commonly top lamb patties. These high-potential burgers have somehow been painted into a cultural corner.
Enter the Botiwalla Lamb Burgers, found at the Ponce City Market space operated by the team behind Chai Pani. These little slider-sized burgers, two to an order, practically crackle with electricity compared to typical lamb burger offerings. Botiwalla’s lamb patties are seasoned with cumin, ginger, chiles, mint and cilantro, then topped with desi slaw, green chutney and Maggi ketchup.
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The wonderful thing about Botiwalla’s lamb burgers is that they feel new and exciting, yet taste so familiar. Lamb takes exceptionally well to Indian cooking, so none of the flavors are a surprise, but they are a delight. With these burgers that are spicy, messy and fun to eat, Botiwalla might have found just the right recipe to pull lamb burgers out of their rut for good.
Botiwalla. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-225-8963, botiwalla.com.
DAS BBQ Elote Creamed Corn
The elote creamed corn at DAS BBQ isn’t your granddad’s creamed corn. If you think of creamed corn as the watery, bland side dish dumped from a can and sitting untouched on the cafeteria buffet, be prepared to have your eyes opened at this Westside smokehouse.
The name itself reveals the inspiration for the flavors in DAS BBQ’s version. Elote is the Mexican street corn roasted on a stick, often served with toppings like chiles and crumbled cheese. Those same ingredients make cameos in different parts of DAS BBQ’s recipe, which starts with fresh corn.
Sauteing the kernels with fresh, de-seeded jalapenos gives the dish some chile flavor and spice, though not enough to overwhelm. Heavy cream and Parmesan cheese give it heft, richness and unmistakable umami. A little salt and some barbecue spices round out the flavor, and a quick appointment with an immersion blender ensures the corn is creamy without being liquefied.
The ‘cue might be the draw at DAS BBQ, but the corn is not to be missed.
DAS BBQ. 1203 Collier Road NW, Atlanta. 404-850-7373, dasbbq.com.
Little Bangkok Tom Ka Soup Hotpot
Step into Little Bangkok’s small waiting area, and you’re greeted with walls filled with framed articles about the restaurant. One particularly amusing review mounted at eye level was written by my esteemed colleague Wendell Brock. He wrote it in 2012. Former AJC dining editor John Kessler was the last to cover Little Bangkok in this publication. That was in 2014.
Both mentioned the Tom Ka Soup Hotpot.
Plenty of food trends have come and gone since Brock and Kessler wrote about this excellent version of the classic Thai coconut and chicken soup, but good food transcends trends.
While Little Bangkok’s Tom Ka soup is tasty, no matter what, the best way to eat it is in the hotpot at the restaurant. It’s served in a vessel that looks like an upside-down rocket engine, complete with flames shooting from the top. This keeps the soup near boiling while you eat.
Even without the flaming hotpot, the soup itself is a spectacle — a slick of chile oil floats on top, coating the button mushrooms bobbing at the surface. Underneath, tender chicken and rich coconut cream round out the unctuous soup. Small cross sections of green onion and lemongrass further enliven the flavor.
It’s easy to respect the classics when the classics are this good.
Little Bangkok. 2225 Cheshire Bridge Road NE, Atlanta. 404-315-1530, littlebangkokatlanta.com.
Bar Margot Biscoff Cream Pie
Commercial airline flights are not known as laboratories of culinary innovation, but inspiration can strike anywhere. In AJC reporter Nedra Rhone’s profile of pastry chef Lasheeda Perry, the latter revealed that the idea for one of her signature desserts was sown by the Biscoff cookies served on her flight to Atlanta to begin her current post at Bar Margot.
Interlacing flavors of banana, bourbon and its namesake cookies, the Biscoff Cream Pie at Bar Margot is understated, yet whimsical, subtle and fun. Piles of crumbled Biscoff cookies flank the velvet-textured pie, and the dish is dotted with melon ball-size scoops of lightly caramelized banana. Resting atop the dessert, a tuile-like pattern of chocolate swirls painted gold adds a bit of luxury, though the dessert costs only $9.
It’s a genuine delight to discover that the shapely little spheres on the plate are not ice cream or sorbet, but simply prepared raw banana. The crunchy, crumbly texture and spiced caramel flavor of the Biscoff cookies play perfectly off the fruit in the pie, and the garnish. When inspiration strikes, it’s best to keep it simple. Perry has done just that with her Biscoff Cream Pie, a prime example of how simple ingredients can be transformed into a luxurious dish, in the right hands.
Bar Margot. 75 14th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-881-5913, barmargotatl.com.
Bread & Butterfly Shrimp Remoulade
The days of brunch as an afterthought are over.
This has been the case for a while, but the point was driven home again at Bread & Butterfly on a recent Saturday. Chef Billy Allin was working the line at the Inman Park restaurant, his flagship now that Cakes & Ale in Decatur has closed.
Not only was a well-established chef working brunch service, but the short menu appeared to be thoughtfully crafted.
The shrimp remoulade at Bread & Butterfly is a perfect example of brunch done right. Fat shrimp, served cold, were nestled in a bed of fresh, crisp salad greens. Sourced and cooked with care, the shrimp had an exceptionally clean flavor. Sliced avocado added a bit of richness to the dish in a classic way. It was a reminder that this combination predates the current trend of putting avocados on and in everything.
The remoulade sauce, credited to the New Orleans grande dame Commander’s Palace, tied everything together with tanginess and zest.
It’s a satisfying dish that won’t weigh you down.
This is another sign of how far brunch has come: a meal that fits into your day, rather than putting you in a coma.
Bread & Butterfly. 290 Elizabeth St. NE, Atlanta. 678-515-4536, bread-and-butterfly.com.