Atlanta Orders In: Spring’s chef shows off Korean roots with curbside offerings

Takeout from Spring in Marietta: fried chicken dinner, with honey drop biscuits; braised greens; mashed potatoes; gravy and house-made hot sauce; peach tart and polenta sourdough. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Takeout from Spring in Marietta: fried chicken dinner, with honey drop biscuits; braised greens; mashed potatoes; gravy and house-made hot sauce; peach tart and polenta sourdough. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Brian So, the chef at Spring in Marietta, had an idea that wouldn’t go away. Walking the town square one night, “I just realized — no offense — how white it is.”

Wouldn’t it be fun, he thought, to open a traditional Korean tofu house at the center of this picturesque small town?

“I became obsessed with this image of having huge Korean signage ... and how absurd it would look,” said So, 32, a Korean-American who grew up in Kennesaw and opened the nationally acclaimed Spring in 2016. “It was going to be a restaurant where there was pretty much zero creativity involved, just food my grandma cooked.”

Chef Brian So crafts Spring’s magnificent fresh peach tarts by hand. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Chef Brian So crafts Spring’s magnificent fresh peach tarts by hand. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

The chef and his partner, Daniel Crawford, got as far as finding a space, creating a design and developing a menu, but the deal fell through.

That was February, before the pandemic roiled the restaurant industry. Now, they consider it a stroke of good fortune that they scrapped their plan. “It would have ruined us,” So said.

Spring shuttered its dining room in March, reopened with a tasting-menu format for the month of June, then closed again in early July as COVID-19 numbers spiked.

This week, however, Marietta is getting its Korean home cooking after all. As part of its week-old curbside-only operation, Spring is featuring an eight-dish dinner of Korean standards, including charcoal-grilled kalbi (short rib), spicy pork bulgogi, fermented soybean soup, banchan, rice and lettuce wraps, for $29 per person.

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Brian So, chef at Spring in Marietta, has been working on his fried chicken technique for years. He plans to keep the bird in rotation on his curbside menu. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Brian So, chef at Spring in Marietta, has been working on his fried chicken technique for years. He plans to keep the bird in rotation on his curbside menu. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

The Korean cuisine is being offered in addition to a lineup of gourmet meal kits: halibut en papillote; braised short rib; tagliatelle Bolognese; and a luxurious cote de boeuf, with black-truffle cream corn, green beans with chanterelles, and a garden salad ($150).

Also offered are a vegetarian kit, soups, salads, fancy snacks, bread and desserts, including a show-stopping peach tart with Bavarian cream. Crawford, who doubles as sommelier and general manager, suggests wine pairings.

So sees the carryout program as a fine-dining alternative to upscale grocery stores that offer ready-to-eat and heat-and-serve fare under one roof: “You can come here and take care of yourself for a few days in one trip, and not even leave your car.” (Service is no afterthought; tray-bearing waiters in aprons deliver orders to the parking lot.)

The so-called “hot and ready” component varies weekly. (Last week, it was buttermilk fried chicken with all the fixings.) Meal kits will be switched up every two to three weeks. If you missed the fried chicken, don’t despair; So expects to put it in regular rotation. He’s been perfecting his recipe for years, and is “obsessed.”

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Spring’s dessert offerings include blackberry-vanilla swirl ice cream. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Spring’s dessert offerings include blackberry-vanilla swirl ice cream. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

If he gets fixated on something, you can bet it will be delicious. Here’s a chef who bakes the bread, churns the butter, and crafts every one of those peach tarts by hand. Last week, he sold 18 of the elegant confections a day. “I think people can clearly see the love and care put into that tart,” he said. “We just kind of want to convey the message that we are still Spring, and we are still ambitious.”

If Marietta is lucky, maybe one day he’ll get his tofu house.

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SPRING

Menu: classic American fare

Alcohol: beer and wine to go

What I ordered: fried chicken dinner with braised greens, mashed potatoes, gravy, honey drop biscuits and hot sauce; loaf of polenta sour dough; peach tart; blackberry-vanilla swirl ice cream. Every bite was exceptional. This chef is a genuine artist.

Service options: curbside; orders must be placed by 9 p.m. the night before

Safety protocols: follows all CDC and industry guidelines; contact-free transactions only

Address, phone: 36 Mill St., Marietta; 678-540-2777

Hours: 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays

Website: springmarietta.com