Nestled away in a quaint shotgun styled house just outside of Downtown Athens is one hell of a culinary adventure. Comprised of Damien, Randolph, Patrick, Eddie, Matt, and Nancy, the collective known as The Four Coursemen have taken their game from impromptu kitchen slinging to the precipice of national fame.
The abbreviated version of their story goes a little something like this: dude meets dude, both love food, both hunker down in a kitchen. Soon, three gainfully employed chefs (a pastry chef, an executive chef, and a sous chef) and a certified sommelier make their way into the group. Little by little, friends, as well as friends of friends, start showing up just to take down some of the offerings. The makings of a fine underground supper club if you will.
That started roughly four years ago; since then, the team has started to prepare approachable prix fixe affairs for anyone willing to blindly entrust a meal to these Four Coursemen. Thanks in part to a ton of media attention [most notably an article in Food & Wine Magazine], these dinners have become such a hot ticket, that a spot at the table is guaranteed to get snapped up in a matter of moments. Throw in an upcoming TV special on The Cooking Channel, and things are about to get all crazy up in he-uh.
Generally speaking, emails from the group hit your inbox sometime on any given Thursday. The next day, you anxiously hit refresh on your browser as the clock ticks down toward reservation time. Hastily fill out the form, and, with a little bit of luck, you’ll nab a seat at one of their Saturday meals.
Not too long ago, and after many failed attempts, I managed to score some spots for a small group of foodies. The drive up to Athens was ripe with anticipation; it’s not often that you find a worthwhile food excursion within 60-miles of our city. As droves of Bulldog Nation fled the college town, I can’t help but wonder if they know the joy of what they left behind.
Though the directions couldn’t be more clear, I wouldn’t be surprised if our gathering at the foot of the communal driveway was uncommon. With a handful of houses to choose from, our newly acquired entourage nervously approached the romantically lit house towards the back. That was the last bit of apprehension from the evening.
The Coursemen have employed two lovely hostesses, one part Erin and one part Lauren. Both are delightful, though Lauren is an apparent stand in when Erin is unavailable. We were promptly and warmly greeted, given some wine, and left to our own devices. For the next half-hour, we mingled with our fellow gorilla dinners, poked our heads into the kitchen, and leered over the menus so kindly laid out on the table. The excitement grew.
TIP: I might advise that you bring a bottle of wine for the group. Though the meal itself is paired (thanks Nancy!!!), having your own adult grape juice will help ease the tension during the preliminary greeting stage … remember sharing is caring!
Eventually, we were wrangled up and happily corralled into a large room with two awesomely amazing communal tables. There were some introductions from the crew and then some more jovial yet awkward discussions at the table. Remember people: tactical dispensing of information will benefit you during first encounters. And please dude … stop caressing his back, you’re nice – but your old and I’m pretty sure his girlfriend doesn’t appreciate it.
Served primarily by Nancy and her hostess du jour, each course came with a little introduction and a pairing lesson. Some of the dishes were meticulously planned, others more spontaneously assembled. During any given meal, you’re likely to find some of the courses a little “mad scientist” and others a refinement of the classics.
To dissect and regurgitate each bite of the evening would be a disservice on a number of levels. I’m not here to deconstruct each dish or perpetrate some hard hitting criticism of that which I did not like. Truth be told, there wasn’t a single thing I was overtly adverse to. However, the most important reason for the glazing over is that to date, they have yet to serve the same dish twice. Suffice it to say, while not every dish I sampled moved me, at its best, the meal was a stunner. At its worst, my taste buds were rolling over one and other enjoying the playful banter presented by said dish.
While some lame wads lamented that “they don’t eat that” or tried to bark out orders like they were at a WaHo, the rest of us spent our evening engaged in bites of delectable food and great conversations with patrons and chefs. As the meal came to an end, clean up time was as fun as the rest of the night. While many in the house politely excused themselves, more than a handful found their way into the kitchen, and engaged the course “men” in the ways of food, love, and fun.
If your sole purpose in eating is to focus on the food and nothing else, I’ll bet you the tank of gas and the $60-$75 you’ll spend on the meal will be well worth it. If you are carefree, open to the social excitement that great food and wonderful people necessitate, you’re likely to have one of the best meals available to you.
As we waddled our way back to our vehicle, every single one of us left wanting another meal. As I walked in my door, I made a bee line for my television … shuttled my schedule forward to Monday, November 22, at 9PM, found The Cooking Channel, and hit that bright red circle. Yes ladies and gents, the experience of the Four Coursemen is coming to a TV set near you. Apparently, the special will cover the entire process of assembling a meal. I, for many, am ecstatic. Will this single special turn into a full time show? Who knows … but it wouldn’t shock me.
Need I say more?
[Postal Scriptation: As I was sans camera during my visit, I have nabbed above pictures from my foodie friends over at FatFoodTaxi.com. Big round of applause y’all!!!]
Other Blog Posts on The Four Coursemen
- Fat Food Taxi on The Four Coursemen (09.19.10)
- Delicious Musings on The Four Coursemen (07.14.10)
- Trouble With Toast on The Four Coursemen (02.19.10)
- Sweet Iced Tea on The Four Coursemen (11.03.09)