We had been excitedly anticipating the open of Kevin Gillespie’s Revival for months, shortly after we first heard of its opening. About three weeks back, our youngest sent me a text that they were opening that week and we set a date and made reservations. Located in a home from the early 1900s, on a horrifically paved stretch of Church Street, this is one more notch on the belt of Decatur to become the dining destination in metro Atlanta.
Family ties are evident here, from the recipes to the picture on the wall it tells the story of the Gillespie family. The menu is broken into four sections: hors d’ouvres, entrees, fixings and desserts. We studied the menu, and after some coaching from our (excellent) server, chose to go with the family style feast. This option is noted on the bottom of the menu and includes two appetizers (Revival’s choices), individual choices for entrees (a couple have an up charge associated with them), all of the sides and individual choices of dessert. Currently priced at $42.00 per diner (the price isn’t listed on the menu), it’s a great value and a wonderful introduction to the restaurant.
We were started out with the deviled ham tea sandwiches, served with pickled vegetables. These little bites were toasted perfectly and our son-in-law and I really enjoyed the deviled ham. I can’t say that I’ve had deviled ham in the last thirty years, maybe forty. And back then it was Underwood Deviled Ham in the white wrapper. This was a whole lot better. Full of the flavor of porky goodness, with a little “kick” at the end, I’d order it as an entree.
One of the highlights of the meal was our server, Jamar, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy his job. Above is the kale salad, with gala apples, mushrooms, parmigiano reggiano and a boiled dressing. He said that part of the preparation of this salad includes a 20 minute massage of the kale, to make it more tender. This led to a running series of questions about the kale masseuse – did the masseuse do other jobs? What was done to protect those fingers? I don’t care for kale, but I really enjoyed this salad (apples and cheese are such a good mix, particularly here). We all enjoyed it, clearing the plate. Kale yeah!
Right before the meal arrived, these little triangles of cornbread arrived. We heard an interview a couple of weeks before the restaurant opened with chef Kevin and he was saying that the cornbread was one of the things he was making from his grandmother’s recipe. The cornbread was moist, like cake, and neither crumbly nor sweet. The honey butter was a perfect complement.
The sides arrived, starting with a pot of steaming macaroni and cheese for two (there was one for each side of the table). I don’t know how many cheeses were in this dish (I tasted at least two – a cheddar and something light and creamy), but there were no leftovers in either of these little bowls. The rest of the sides arrived, white cabbage with confit ham, hickory smoked local greens, field peas and butter beans in sweet cream butter with dill and creamed silver queen corn (starting at twelve o’clock in the picture below).
I’m neither a cabbage guy nor big on greens, but the ladies both ate some of these, and the leftovers of each made the trip home for a veggie plate one night later on in the week. The sweet corn was fabulous – we could have eaten two more plate fulls as both plates were scraped clean. The cream and dill sauce on the field peas and butter beans was another family recipe and were different than any peas that I’ve ever had, but were good. For the entrees, we chose three different ones between the four of us. There were two servings of the fried chicken,
which was moist and well flavored. Jo gave me the leg and I gladly devoured it. Our son-in law had the grassfed beef and pork meatloaf, wrapped in bacon.
Why are more foods not wrapped in bacon? It’s such a brilliant delivery mechanism. The meatloaf had a ketchupy-tomato sauce on top and appeared to be a good blend of the two meats – I didn’t get a sample of that, but that plate was cleaned also. I ordered the third entree, shrimp with red rice.
The first time I saw shrimp with red rice on a menu, it came from Steven Satterfield’s kitchen at Miller Union and it was explained as Savannah’s alternative to shrimp and grits. The rice is not actually red, but instead the dish uses long grain white rice and tomatoes to add the color and flavor. It was a very good dish and reminded me a lot of the shrimp and grits in tomato sauce that you see in so many places. We deliberated long and hard about the desserts, and after everyone made their choices, we ended up with one of each.
From top, going clockwise: Peach pie with almond butter ice cream; lemon ice box pie; Geneva’s (Kevin’s grandmother) toasted vanilla pound cake with pineapple and whipped cream; and “Awesome” chocolate cake (it had coffee in the icing). I ordered the lemon ice box pie and ate most of it, myself, while also sampling the peach pie (very good) and the toasted pound cake (even better). I passed on the chocolate, but it got rave reviews from the rest of the table.
With the company that we kept, it really was a “family” dinner. When we go back, we’ll have a better idea of exactly what we want and, if it’s just the to of us, we will likely not go the family feast route. But when we’re with family again, then all bets are off. Spectacular meal.