Rice House, at Barnsley Resort in Adairsville, has “yard-to-fork” dining, with some ingredients growing in the garden that can be seen from the dining room. CONTRIBUTED BY BARNSLEY RESORT / DIAMOND PR
The historic 19th-century house-turned-restaurant occupies a central location on the resort’s 3,000 acres, and Starnes and Rice House’s head chef Evan Babb take an approach they playfully call “yard-to-fork.” That’s not simply some clever turn of phrase, either. Diners seated in the elegant, sun-drenched dining room can glance out the paned windows to see the garden with the basil plants that grew the leaves sitting atop their deviled eggs, or the edible flowers accenting a platter laden with local trout.
The Rice House menu changes daily, depending not only on what Starnes and his team source from local farmers, but also how the Barnsley garden crops are yielding that day. The food skews traditionally Southern, although diners shouldn’t be surprised by a few global flourishes on the plate, especially since Rice House also runs a training program, hosting aspiring young chefs from around the globe to teach them about how best to treat local ingredients, and to translate North Georgia’s bounty to diners’ plates.
5:30-10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. 597 Barnsley Gardens Road NW, Adairsville. 770-773-7480, barnsleyresort.com/dining.
The Expat in Athens is a pleasant setting for brunch. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL
The Expat in Athens
Jerry Slater closed up his beloved H. Harper Station in 2016. The Reynoldstown fixture, located in the former train depot now home to Muchacho and Golden Eagle, helped chart a course for Atlanta's current cocktail culture during its half-decade lifespan. It also gave Slater a venue to share his wealth of whiskey knowledge with the world — knowledge that has recently resurfaced in "The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails," the book he co-authored with Sara Camp Milam.
Expat chef Savannah Sasser (left) and owners Jerry and Krista Slater. CONTRIBUTED BY JOSEPH PRINCE
In May, Slater and his wife, Krista, opened the Expat in Athens. Located in a quaint two-story cottage in Athens' Five Points neighborhood, the Expat combines the Slaters' beverage aplomb (Krista is a sommelier) with French-influenced fare courtesy of chef Savannah Sasser. Atlanta diners should be hip to her cooking from her time as executive chef at Inman Park's Hampton + Hudson and Decatur's Twain's Brewpub. As at those approachable spots, Sasser's cooking at the Expat bridges classical European cooking techniques — she makes her own charcuterie, for instance — with a love for local ingredients. The bistro's French-leaning menu sees Georgia fare take center stage: A smear of Sweet Grass Dairy cheese underpins a toast topped with local mushrooms, while clams in a fragrant saffron broth come straight from Sapelo Island.
Expat co-owner Jerry Slater, known for H. Harper Station, keeps a cocktail culture going at his new Athens restaurant with drinks such as the Papa Doble cocktail with Havana Club Blanco Rum. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL
The cozy, white-walled dining area has quickly become one of Athens’ more pleasant brunch locales. And while the expansive entry-level bar makes for a fine perch to down local brews like a Tropicalia IPA from the Creature Comforts brewery less than 2 miles away in downtown Athens, those in the know head to the lounge-like upstairs bar, where a tucked-away vibe and framed Prince records hanging on the wall set a more intimate scene for a cocktail or two.
5-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sundays. 1680 S. Lumpkin St., Athens. 706-521-5041, theexpatathens.com.
Bistro Hilary, located in downtown Senoia south of Atlanta, aims to re-create an easygoing French bistro vibe in a Southern setting. CONTRIBUTED BY BISTRO HILARY
Bistro Hilary in Senoia
There are inevitably two things that come up when folks talk about Senoia. The first is the dispute over the how the town’s name should be pronounced. The second is its status as pilgrimage site for fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Senoia, an hour to Atlanta’s southwest, doubled as the town of Woodbury for many zombie-filled episodes.
If there were a third thing that should come to mind, a case could be made for the cooking of chef Hilary White. While Atlanta diners may remember her time working under Pano Karatassos in the Buckhead Life family of restaurants, it's really over the past decade at the Serenbe restaurant The Hil that White began to shine. Her understated, Southern-influenced cooking drew many to the pastoral community, and though The Hil underwent a change in ownership in 2017, locals didn't have to travel far when White and husband Jim relocated their operations to Senoia.
Chef Hilary White’s food at Bistro Hilary draws on classic French preparations using local Georgia ingredients. CONTRIBUTED BY BISTRO HILARY
The new Bistro Hilary does what White does best, which is to highlight local ingredients simply but effortlessly. A bistro not just in name alone, the restaurant’s French influence shows up on its menu, too. Lunch veers light and fresh, like a creamy shrimp Louie salad, while note-perfect renditions of timeless dishes like rich, slow-braised beef bourguignon and vibrant Cajun chicken round out the dinner menu. Sides like macaroni au gratin, though, make the argument for a Euro-influence mac and cheese. And with its broad, sunny patio, Bistro Hilary’s quickly become a go-to for an easygoing weekend brunch. Keeping with the theme, a wide wine selection is on hand, with the majority of the nearly three dozen choices coming from France and only a handful of wines sourced stateside.
11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays; 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. 21 Barnes St., Senoia. 770-727-9485, bistrohilary.com.
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