Poor Hendrix originally was conceived as a bistro and bar, offering two separate menus six nights a week, an idea that worked well until operations were streamlined in March. Where once there was a staff of 20 to 25, there's now a skeleton crew of seven, including the Russells.
Poor Hendrix chef and co-owner Aaron Russell is a master of sweets and pastries; this milk chocolate mousse with bourbon caramel sauce and pretzels is a fine example of what he can do in simple, takeout mode. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
On June 23, the patio opened for table service, with strict safety protocols in place. But on Thursday, the Russells abruptly announced they were re-closing the outdoor space, out of concerns over the spiraling COVID-19 cases in the state. "I feel like we have a responsibility to our community to encourage folks to stay home until this most recent surge is under control and it's safe to ease restrictions again," Aaron said.
Before Poor Hendrix, Jamie, 40, helped a former professor conduct research on great apes. Aaron, who turns 40 this month, built an impressive resume as a fine-dining pastry chef (the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead; Seeger’s; Restaurant Eugene). Excited by the precision and meticulousness of dessert-making, he learned his craft at the Ritz under the watchful eye of chef Bruno Menard and pastry chef Manabu Inoue. He is a five-time James Beard Award semifinalist in the outstanding pastry chef category.
The daily special at Poor Hendrix might include a whole roasted chicken, with crispy fried fingerling potatoes, for $24. A garlic-lemon aioli (not shown) elevated the dish into something luxurious. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Though Poor Hendrix exudes a casual vibe, the attention to detail is everywhere, from snacks and beverages to packaging. Because it has a small kitchen, with minimal refrigeration, it gets ingredients delivered six days a week. I believe that’s why its offerings are so flavorful and bright.
It has partnered with one of its main suppliers, Tucker Farms in Rome, to offer a Community Supported Agriculture box for Friday pickup. At the suggestion of customers, it now offers bottled salad dressings to go with the farm-fresh lettuces.
Poor Hendrix offers takeout of house “staples,” like salmon tartare with chips and spicy cold sesame noodles, as well as daily specials, like a golden beet salad with basil. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
The Russells are grateful that their takeout enterprise has been sufficient to keep the restaurant in the black, but Aaron misses “getting to create food that’s meant to be eaten the moment it comes off the stove.”
I hear you, chef. But, you certainly won’t find me complaining about your cold noodles, salmon tartare and brown-butter rice crispy treats.
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Menu: eclectic mix of bistro food, bar snacks and drinks
What's new: lots of cold food; picnic packs; CSA box from Tucker Farms; bottled dressings and sauces
Alcohol: beer, cider, wine, cocktails
What I ordered: whole roasted chicken with potatoes, beet salad, salmon tartare, cold sesame noodles, bananas Foster ice cream, milk chocolate mousse with bourbon caramel and pretzels. Though good cold, the chicken came with instructions for reheating, an idea I endorse. The lemon-garlic aioli dipping sauce elevated the dish into something luxurious. The beets, with a hint of fresh basil, were lovely. You never can go wrong with the noodles and tartare. The ice cream and mousse were sublime, as you would expect from a world-class pastry chef.
Service options: call or walk up for takeout; no delivery
Safety protocols: follows all government-recommended protocols
Address, phone: 2371 Hosea L. Williams Drive SE, Atlanta; 404-549-8756
4:30-9 p.m. Thursdays-Tuesdays.