Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recess at ChowDown

   I know that Recess is a very coveted spot to go, and I could see from the posts on the ChowDown page on facebook, that this is a place tons of people were wanting to try out during the event.  It's also very popular with the food bloggers, so needless to say, I have been dying to mange, mange a la Recess.  I thought what better time to do so than during the ChowDown event.  It was pretty crazy getting a reservation here too!  I called the first night of ChowDown to make one, and my options were 5 PM or after 9:15 PM on almost all the night....BUT they did have one reservation for last night at 8:15.  That's still kind of late for a random Wednesday, but we usually eat that late anyway.  We like to pretend we're 22 :)  I've been thinking about it all week, and I didn't even care about having to make the reservation without knowing what would be on the menu!

The Place

   For those of you who don't know about Recess, if there are any of you still out there, it's located on the up and coming corner of 49th Street and College Ave. in SoBro.  It's quite a trendy little joint, but not stuffy, pretty much just how I like it.  They have these cool cafeteria style chairs and roughed up concrete floors.  Some cool art on the walls and very interesting light fixtures fancy up the place.  The thing about Recess is they make it easy for you.  Easy to like the place, easy to order and very, very easy to eat their amazing food.  So let's get on to it, shall we?

The Delectables

   The menu changes every night, you can check online for Chef Hardesty's nightly creations.  Typically, they serve four courses, but the menu was slightly altered for the event and only includes 3 courses for the $30.  If you want to get a feel of how it normally works, they give you the option of adding the extra course in the middle for an additional price.

We got started with salads.  There were two on the menu (easy peasy), so we each got one.  I ordered the tomato salad with vidalia onions, maytag bleu cheese and celery see vinaigrette.  Another thing they make easy is for me to take pictures of their beautiful food.  Beauty aside, this simple tomato salad was really good.  The tomatoes were sweet and complimented well by the maytag bleu cheese.  The cheese was pungent and moldy...and delicious.  The dressing was perfect and the whole thing just lovely.
Hubs thought pretty much the same about his mixed green salad with fennel, basil, parmesan cheese and sherry vinaigrette.  He chowed down! I also loved that this salad was served with a piece of crusty bread...mmmm carbs.  The parmesan was freshly shaved into bog slices on top of the greens and Hubs mentioned that the dressing was also delightful.

We had the option of wine pairings with our meal (2 for the ChowDown and 3 for a regular meal).  We decided that sounded awesome, and I not only was trusting their pairings, but was excited to see what they chose for us.
The salad course was served with a bubbly rose, the Chateau Moncontour Cremant de brut rose to be exact.  I would not usually choose a rose, which is why the idea of a pairing was great.  If it were up to me, I would have missed this!  It was really good...and totally awesome with the salads.  I even scored a picture of Hubs through my bubbly.

After taking a bit of time with the salads and our rose, we were ready to move on to the entree.  We couldn't come to an agreement to both choose something different, so we both got the salmon.  It was a choice between Maine cod accompanied by fingerling potatoes, bacon and swiss chard OR Kodiak red salmon with crushed new potatoes and sugar snap peas served over a brown butter mustard jus.  Ummm...yum.  Yeah, so we got the salmon.

Does this look amazing, or what?  And it totally was.  It was so good.  The salmon came out hot and was cooked perfectly.  It was coated with a crispy and salty topping, and despite my salt aversion, it was so good.  They just get it with the flavors.  The fish over the potatoes, sugar snaps and jus went together like Jenny and Forrest.  I was a little leery about the mustard jus because I am not a huge mustard fan, but it was great for a few reasons.  It was not overwhelming at all, which I think can easily happen with mustard flavored things.  It was also so complimentary to the entire dish.  It calmed the salt flavor and allowed the fish and it's accompaniments to melt right in your mouth.  I have personally never tasted such delicious snap peas by the way.  I know, you may think I am crazy now for raving about snap peas, but these were so fresh and crisp and sweet I want to eat them every day.  On top of this outstanding salmon dish, we were served an 08 Domaine Jean Fournier Cuvee Saint Urbain Marsannay, Bourgonge from France.  Whoa, that was a mouthful, but I wanted you to know the real name in case you ever wanted to find it.  I know I do!  Favorite light bodied red ever.  It was fruity and a little bit dry, but nothing overwhelming.  The perfect red to drink on a warm night.  I'm going to stalk this out and get myself a bottle for home, so good.
  Another nice thing about our first experience at Recess was the timing.  They game us ample time to enjoy our course.  The didn't rush us and let us drink and chat a little before bringing out the dessert.  And bring it, they did.

We enjoyed this tasty treat of buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry compote for our final course of the evening.  After those first two courses, I went into dessert feeling in just the right desert mode.  I don't know if it was that we had fish, or that they were normal sized portions, but I felt great.  Not too full to enjoy my dessert...and I did!  Everything was fresh and exactly what you would expect from seeing this picture and hearing about the rest of our food at Recess.  They didn't do a think wrong, in my opinion.


Places like Recess make me wonder why I spend my money eating out at any other establishments.  Hell, it makes me wonder about the food I eat, in general.  Sure, it's pricey, but instead of eating out every Friday, I could skip one, eat out twice a month at Recess and I'd be content.  I could eat here for the rest of my days.  I expected it to be great food, but I really enjoyed the whole experience.  This is what dining out is all about!!  Hooray for Chef Hardesty for his refreshing take on the food experience and thank you Recess.  Can't wait to go back...totally going to be my birthday dinner, yeah, yeah!

Recess on Urbanspoon


  1. Hubs and I were going to make our way to Recess for Chow Down, but last minute, had to cancel. I have to admit, I wasn't overly excited about the menu (looks like you went the night we were supposed to go) but the photos look great. Glad you enjoyed, we'll get there someday! I hear a lot of mixed reviews, so I'm eager to try it out...

  2. They actually called me to take an earlier reservation that night due to someone canceling! I wonder if it was you :) I have nothing bad to say about it, but you never know. There are so many different things that can make or break places for people, but for me, it was a really perfect dining experience. Hope you make it there soon to check it out...I'll be interested to see what you think!


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