My brother and I had just finished eating a gut-busting soul food meal at Busy Bee Cafe that included fried pork chops, fried chicken, candied yams, collard greens, green beans, macaroni and cheese, a basket of cornbread, blackberry cobbler, banana pudding, chocolate cake, and sweet tea. The last thing I wanted was more to eat, until he started describing Star Provisions. Not two minutes later, we were driving cross-town to Howell Mill Road.
Chef/owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison began building their culinary empire in 1993 when they opened Bacchanalia. This contemporary American restaurant has long been Atlanta’s most hyped restaurant. Quatrano and Harrison relocated Bacchanalia from a Buckhead cottage to its current location in 1999. At that time, they also opened Star Provisions, a “4,000 square foot culinary dream shop” adjacent to Bacchanalia.
Meat & Seafood Department Manager Lynne Sawicki has worked for the past 8 years as Chef of Quatrano and Harrison’s Mediterranean-tinged Floataway Café and at Bacchanalia. She now purchases all meat and seafood items for all the restaurants and Star Provisions, including unusual wild game and fish flown in daily from around the U.S.
Cheese Monger Tim Gaddis, previously of Murray’s Cheese in Manhattan, offers over 200 international cheeses. Bacchanalia Sommelier Daniel Rudiger selects Star Provisions’ wine and beers. All wines available by the glass at Bacchanalia are for sale. A central room sells tableware, utensils and small appliances.
Provisions To Go offers a staggering selection of pizzas, soups, salads, sandwiches and prepared foods. If I lived in Atlanta, this could easily be a once a week option, though prices on some higher-end items are astronomical. Still, any display case with slow roasted wild salmon, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and chicken pot pie is awfully tempting, no matter the cost.
The room also features five painted panels, depicting barnyard animals. According to the scrawl on the panels, goats apparently like lettuce, pigs prefer parsley, and cows crave carrots. Who knew?
This roundabout write-up finally brings us to the reason my brother and I drove cross-town to Star Provisions: the baked goods of Dorothy Copenhaver and Sandee Jarnac. We bought five items to go, none of which lasted the day: a fig bar, a peanut butter chocolate bar, a small pear brown butter tart, a ginger molasses cookie, and a small chocolate tort.
It was well worth driving an hour out of the way to eat Copenhaver and Jarnac’s baked goods. Next time I’m in Atlanta, there’s no doubt I’ll return to Star Provisions for a more varied and gluttonous experience. This concludes the longest write-up of five baked goods in recorded history.
FYI: Quinones, Quatrano and Harrison’s most recent venture, is helmed by Chef de Cuisine Drew Belline and offers only tasting menus. Chef Belline’s current 9 courses celebrate local delicacies such as Foie Gras Torchon with Scuppernong Jelly & Peanut Brittle, North Georgia Rainbow Trout, Rosemary Panna Cotta with Local Muscadine Sorbet, and Ellijay Rome Apple Souffle. Sign me up. According to the website, “Many of the ingredients are grown on Summerland Farm, Quatrano’s family farm, which has been in their family for over five generations.” The restaurant is named for former Floataway Café General Manager James Quinones, a long-time friend of the owners.
Update: November 28, 2009
I returned for the first time in nearly four years and was impressed at how Star Provisions had matured. If anything, the selection was even more impressive, with temptations at every turn.