With the holidays right around the corner and every trace of summer now gone, the season for comfort food is now upon us. So, too, is the time to be mindful of the big new year’s rush to lose the extra pounds that some of us are about to find. To the rescue: "Brunch the Beltline!"
In an effort to reimagine a motor city into more pedestrian-friendly city where cultures merge with multiple advantages gained, the Atlanta Beltline project was created. And while still in its toddler stage, sections are being completed with the ultimate goal of being conjoined to form a beltway around the entire city. But right now, Atlanta’s bustling, pedestrian-friendly section known as "Midtown" has a completed stretch known as the Eastside Trail that begins at Piedmont Park and ends in the historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. Be it on foot, bikes, or rollerblades, neighbors and tourists alike are discovering pure joy while strolling the paved path laden with breathtaking skyline views, strategically placed art, and the opportunity to mingle in an environment free of car fumes and noise. And of course you’d have to add food to make it more exciting — with or without libations.
Known throughout the city for a hip and happening atmosphere and those off-the-chain and quite insane salmon chips, TWO Urban Licks, is by most accounts the shining star on the Eastside Trail. Earlier this year, they welcomed a new chef — Chicago legend Todd Stein. Since our feature of TWO and Todd this past spring, chef Todd has brought forth his first brunch menu.
For the Morning After
To get the party started, grab a seat on the deck to take in lots of fresh air and great views overlooking the Beltline on the deck and begin with a "Hangover Cure," with or without the additional 7-ounce High Life pony — nothing does it like an $8 classic Bloody Mary. Then there’s the option to take it to the bourbon bloody hogger level with bacon-infused bourbon. If you’re that bad, you may want to shoot straight for the Bloody Badass with mezcal, pickled chiles, and grapefruit. And with ingredients such as Sriracha, hoisin, ginger, and more, the Bloody menu gets quite colorful indeed.
As the monkey begins to make his way down and off your back, scones of bacon and Cheddar, with a whipped Brie, are the perfect stomach lining.
When eaten together, the $10 oyster fried to a soft crunch with chow-chow and a Sriracha aioli is like having a party in your mouth when eaten together. And you will definitely feel the kick.
Pork belly is everywhere in the hog-happy South. At $11, TWO’s is smoked and grilled, served with a red-eye mayo and bread-and-butter pickled okra. Served long strip style like, well, bacon, it was full of more flavor and less salt. That in itself was a great feat!
The $11 entrée laden with Spanish chorizo, roasted peppers, tomato, poblano romesco, and a spring salad is the perfect dish when you need to take it easy — not too spicy, but wholesomely delicious. On the other hand, the pancakes with toasted coconuts, slow-cooked bananas, pralinella, and a side of bacon strips is the breakfast of champions! Chef Todd’s cakes (pardon the pun) are light and airy, tender but not springy. The syrup was house-made and buttery, which was a perfect, decadent accompaniment. If you come for nothing more than the salmon chips and Bloody Mary, know that the pancakes are a must.
For a sweet ending, try the bread pudding "sticky buns." Just imagine a soft, moist bun of pecans with a hot buttered rum sauce and a douse of vanilla ice cream and the state of euphoric state of comfort it can bring. That’s the TWO experience.
Now, the suggested way to enjoy the Beltline is to begin at the 10th and Piedmont start of the Eastside Trail and walk past TWO Urban Licks to begin the party (or recovery) at Parish Foods & Goods. Two levels include a relaxed bar and restaurant up top and an even more casual environment downstairs, serving take-home food, coffee, pastries, and more with seating indoors and out. The experience can be as subtle or lively as you can stand. After brunch on Sundays, $1 oysters with $2 beer on draft by Atlanta’s own Sweetwater Brewery are offered from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s also rumored that Parish has an awesome fried chicken and a few other entrées which we will soon share.