Metro Atlanta chef survives virus, hopes restaurants can

This to-go order from Lagarde in Chamblee includes a po’boy with fries, red beans and rice (left) plancha shrimp and gumbo. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
Caption
This to-go order from Lagarde in Chamblee includes a po’boy with fries, red beans and rice (left) plancha shrimp and gumbo. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

Take out, limited dine-in available at Jamie Adams’ Lagarde in Chamblee.

The restaurant celebrates the culinary traditions of New Orleans, where Adams’ parents were born and raised. And, many of its dishes are based on Adams’ mother’s recipes, including andouille and shrimp gumbo, red beans and rice, and daube, a traditional braised beef dish served with crispy onions.

Since mid-March, all of those things — plus such items as plancha or barbecue shrimp, and fried oyster and shrimp po’boys on Leidenheimer French bread — have been available for takeout.

And, Lagarde recently reopened its dining room and bar for full service, though it's still operating on a limited schedule.

The same goes for il Giallo, which remained open for takeout, and also recently reopened its dining room.

But, Adams’ personal pandemic journey has been much more complicated than the easier trajectory of his two restaurants.

“Part of the story is that I got COVID,” Adams said over the phone last week, shortly after having a reassuring follow-up physical with his doctor.

It all started when he got on an airplane on March 10, and flew to New York City to see an Allman Brothers Band 50th anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden.

This order of plancha shrimp (left) and andouille sausage gumbo is from Lagarde in Chamblee. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
Caption
This order of plancha shrimp (left) and andouille sausage gumbo is from Lagarde in Chamblee. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

“It was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot,” said Adams, who enjoys playing guitar and cycling when he’s not in the kitchen.

But, the following Saturday, he developed a fever, then a sore throat and fatigue. In all, the symptoms lasted 15 days, while he remained in quarantine, and ultimately tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“The hardest part was being quarantined at home, you know,” Adams said. “It was very stressful on my wife and the kids. My wife is a nurse at Piedmont, and she was not very proud of me in those moments. But, nobody else in the house got sick. That was the biggest upside. And I just got the antibody test done, in case I can be of help down the line by donating plasma.”

This carryout meal includes a Shoyster po’boy with fried oysters and fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and remoulade. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
Caption
This carryout meal includes a Shoyster po’boy with fried oysters and fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and remoulade. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

Given his experience with the virus, Adams said he’s taking safety protocols very seriously at his restaurants.

“We’re following all that stuff to a T,” he said. “Everybody is wearing masks. The people delivering the food and the cooks are wearing gloves. At il Giallo, we changed all the filters. We’re just doing everything they’re telling us to do, and, when we think of something else, we’re doing that, too.”

As for the future, Adams, remains cautiously optimistic.

“Right now, we’re fine,” he said. “Our biggest concern is what in the world is August, September, November going look like? Are we still going to have the social distancing and the 50% capacity being forced on us? Or, maybe find that’s what our guests will expect? And, if that’s the case, how are we going to pay the rent with 50% less business?”

Chef Jamie Adams on the patio at Lagarde showing guests his custom-made guitar. Contributed by Bob Townsend
Caption
Chef Jamie Adams on the patio at Lagarde showing guests his custom-made guitar. Contributed by Bob Townsend

Aside from that worry, though, Adams said he’s thankful he was able to recover from COVID-19 relatively quickly.

“I’m glad that if anybody got it, it was me, because I’m healthy and I got through it,” he said. “I can maybe give confidence to other people that you can beat this. You’ve got to pay attention. Don’t disregard it. Don’t underestimate it. But, you can surely get through it.”

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LAGARDE

Menu: full menu, for dining in or takeout

What's new: return of full-service dining in the restaurant, and on the patio

Alcohol: beer, wine and cocktails for dine-in or carryout

What I ordered: Shoyster (half oyster/half shrimp po'boy), with lettuce, tomato, remoulade, and a side of fries ($16); plancha shrimp with sauteed lemon, garlic butter and French bread ($12.75); gumbo with andouille sausage ($8); red beans and rice ($7). Everything was packaged in cardboard boxes or plastic containers. The shrimp, gumbo, and red beans traveled well, and were easy to reheat. The shrimp was especially good with a rich sauce and bread for dipping. The po' boy held a nice portion of lightly fried shrimp and oysters, but in the time it took to get back home, the bread was soggy. Reheating the seafood and bread in a hot convection oven and reassembling it worked surprisingly well, though.

Service options: dine in; for takeout or delivery, order by phone or through the website; scheduled curbside pickup available, call when you arrive to have food brought out

Safety protocols: following CDC guidelines, and staff is wearing masks and gloves; continuous sanitizing of all surfaces; condiments in disposable ramekins available upon request; single-use menus; tables are set when guests are seated; hand sanitizer readily available for customers and staff

Address, phone: 5090 Peachtree Blvd., Chamblee; 470-385-3533

Hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 12:30-9 p.m. Saturdays; 12:30-closing Sundays

Website: lagardeatl.com

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