Mother … forgive me for I have sinned. Father … I’ve heard the stories so you have nothing to say!
Figuratively speaking, I’m at a loss for words. I’m trying to come up with appropriate descriptors for my recent jaunt at Midtown’s Alluvia, the in-house restaurant at The Cheetah Lounge. If you fancy yourself a bit on the conservative side, you may not know what type of lounge The Cheetah actually is. Needless to say, *most* respected critics might not touch this American restaurant with a ten foot $*#$&!.
As for the loss for words, I don’t have writer’s block. Rather, I’m distracted and driven off-course by all the side stories, subtleties, and humorous anecdotes that defined our time at the preeminent “adult” steakhouse in Atlanta.
In that respect, my struggles there were not unlike the struggles of the countless men that have walked into that dungeon of things depraved and excessive. As much as I wanted to concentrate on the lamb lollipop, it’s a little difficult when Gwen’s tight little body kept gyrating its way through my line of sight again … and again … and again … and again (how much did we spend now?)
If you’re asking yourself exactly why I felt the urge to coax both Krog Bar and Little Sebastian out into The Cheetah’s prurient den, let me provide you a little back story. About a year ago, in a surefire attempt to shock, I started recruiting for a three-day tour of Atlanta’s strip club food scene. Much to my surprise, a number of Atlanta’s more respected food notation makers signed on. It never really did materialize the way it should have and we were ultimately left with just one guilt laden expression of very bad things.
Since then, I’ve grown a good bit. I’ve become far more adept at quickly snapping a picture and I’ve learned so very much about food. So when the opportunity presented itself, I found myself, in part due to tacit approval from Christiane Lauterbach, both emotionally solvent enough and financially stable enough to proceed down the rabbit hole.
The *cough* Décor!
Oh Christiane, you poor poor woman. I enjoy your company and words and have long considered you Atlanta’s Grand Dame of Food. Alas, I am forced to ask the question: Did you simply miss the sex toy shop to the right of the entrance? If not, then I am quite concerned that you described the foyer in comparative terms with the chasteness of a “suburban multiplex.” [Aside: I am of course totally kidding with Christiane – she knows it and you should too if you think otherwise!!!!]
If you show up before 7pm, cover at the club is only $4. We missed that by a few minutes and had to fork over $10/head. As far as I know, the $3 valet fee is always mandatory. Personally, I think 7:15 should still qualify for the early bird special. Regardless, we handed over our money and walked through the stadium-like turnstile left only to wonder how many more would follow us that evening into the great unknown.
By the time you walk down the hallway and into the expansive, neon lit entertainment room, you’ve probably seen a nude dancer scurry and definitely heard something off the night’s (or day’s) “stripper tunes” playlist.
Alluvia shares the space with The Cheetah’s main pit; but, it is sequestered towards the far end relative to the entrance. The handful comfortable chairs and nice tables that flank the main stage are all differentiate you from those there in more honest pursuits.
The rest of the decorative details are about as important to your visit as your feelings on the gold standard are. But for completeness: there are two long bars, two long side stages in front of those bars, and lots of tables to sit at … but no poles!
The *cough* Service!
We arrived at an appropriate time for dinner, but in terms of strip club hours, we should just call it “brunch.” I suppose it’s worth noting that on Saturdays from 11:30a to 4pm, there is a traditional brunch menu available.
When given the opportunity to seat ourselves, we perched in a prime spot near the main stage. Turns out we weren’t but a few tables away from Haygood himself (the proprietor). So while we were treated to highly attentive service, replete with heavy hitting massages from our server “Marsha,” we were much more interested in the service shown to the big man. Seriously – the dude didn’t budge all night and his table was a constant stream of boobs … all there to pay homage just like Luca did to Don Vito.
It’s pretty hard to really evaluate the wait staff against others around the city. After all, it is really just a bar. And how do you resign yourself to the idea that a smile and thank you from a waitress at one establishment is tantamount to a caress of the neck at Alluvia. You might as well consider the shot girls part of the drink service. But what do you say about a woman who will enthusiastically remove her ta-ta holders at a moment’s notice and then fellate a tube of quasi-alcoholic liquid, all while gyrating on your lap like you scratch your own itch? All this in the name of $20 (gratuity appreciated!).
As for the ambiance provided by the DJ – dude, please stop looking for crowd participation during Sweet Caroline, just let Neil’s sultry voice carry through the chorus. Oh, and stop with the Happy Birthday stuff.
The Food (no cough necessary)!
After a seductive ordering process our food began to arrive. It what was probably a very reasonable wait in between. I say probably on account of the fact that time at The Cheetah slips past just as that teddy slipped off what’s her name. KB and I did manage to have an interesting discussion about tipping policies and procedures in any food serving establishment, odd given the environment.
We started with the aforementioned lamb lollipops (Marsha’s recommendation). Much to my surprise, the lamb was perfectly temped in accordance with Sebastian’s desired medium. Seasonings were appropriately Mediterranean but the accompanying tapenade was a little off. I found no hint of feta within, despite assurances by the menu. I think these things ran about $10 for 4. Don’t remember beyond the fact that we were comfortable with the price. [Lesson of the day: Olive tapenade is as redundant as “ascend up,” “please RSVP,” and usual custom. Just tapenade please!]
The expediter was on his/her game that night as our entrées arrived probably about 10 minutes after we were finished with the lamb.
Between the three of us we took down an order of the Italian sausage in a vodka sauce over penne ($??), the cedar-plank salmon ($??), and the slow roasted herbed pork ($26).
The penne displayed reasonably well and ultimately drew comparisons the the product put out by Figo. Though the sausage was clearly not made in-house and the pasta was also produced elsewhere, there appeared to be a nice touch of fennel and bites came with a touch of the spicy kick (as it should).
The slow roasted herbed pork sounded interesting but suffered from execution issues. With sweet corn succotash, crispy pork belly, and a Hickory smoked yellow tomato gastrique, this dish suffered two major faults. One: the slow roasted pork was dried out. It wasn’t subtly or slight, no this thing had been sucked of whatever fatty juice one would hope to find within. The dish has a good foundation and would greatly benefit from proper execution.
As for the cedar plank salmon – ain’t nothing going to save this. While the picture up top (way up at the beginning) may or may not appeal to you, I would be surprised if anyone truly enjoys this collective of ingredients. The crusted Asiago was indulgent when consumed alone and the only thing we found worthwhile about the dish. The stack of grilled vegetables was pedestrian in quality and made my lip curl. Bigger problems exist in the roasted pepper sauce. Individually, it may be fine. But when looking for direction in a dish with so many prominent flavors, we were using some very unpleasant terms to describe our feelings. Yes salmon can go with cheese – but be very careful how you make that happen. And at the very least, if you’re going to use a cedar plank – make sure you don’t dry out the salmon.
The rest of executive chef Bill Toro’s menu reads reasonably well and seems to offer a little bit for everyone. Finding much of its roots in the evolved upon form that is American cuisine, if it existed elsewhere, I might make it a point to explore the signature blackened lobster and see if things can’t be more properly executed (assuming that they don’t need to be rebuilt from the ground up). Questions of consistency will remain unanswered on account of the budgetary concerns associated with the supplemental activities.
Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out
With a bevy of beautiful ladies and some well presented plates of food, Alluvia’s shortcomings as a “food establishment” were surprisingly tame. I really did dislike the salmon and the execution of the pork was significantly off, but I was quite shocked to see that the food wasn’t as outrageously priced as I had suspected it would be. And there may be some gem of a dish in there somewhere.
But Alluvia, you may have, in a single visit, supplanted The Pink Pony as top dog in this dirty dog world. Lord knows your food is worlds’ better. In a venue where sensibility and subtlety has no place, I can only end this with one bit of advice: If you are truly trying to convince yourself that your intentions with Alluvia begin and end with the food, then you have big big problems.
All too important post script: Dude is nicknamed Krog Bar. The actual vino bar has absolutely NOTHING to do with this post in any way, shape, or form.
Atlanta Foodies on Alluvia
- Christiane Lauterbach on Alluvia (02.01.11)