sun in my belly – atlanta, ga

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so, check this out, mis amigos.  last weekend our uncle craig was in atlanta before taking a whirlwind tour of the southeast for some client visits.  we got to spend some fun time with him as we gave him the local tour of the city, and considering he had never been here, it was great getting to show him around town.

of the many fun things we got to do while he was here, one of them was grabbing brunch at sun in my belly before he had to hit the road for the carolinas.  uncle craig is from the fair city of san pedro, california in southern los angeles, so we just couldn’t pass up the chance to show him how the south does food.

sun in my belly was founded in 1996 by executive chef alison lueker.  she was on a mission to make sun in my belly a place with exciting and seasonal fare that keeps patrons intrigued year after year.  soon after opening the restaurant, alison partnered with businessman max leblance to offer catering services not just in their kirkwood neighborhood but everywhere across the southeast.

with six of us at brunch that afternoon, you can bet we had many thoughts on the experience.  we arrived promptly at 12:15 since i had made a reservation using opentable the previous night.  i checked in at the hostess stand, and she let me know it would be maybe five minutes since the group before us was still finishing up their meals and paying their checks.  perfectly understandable, so we grabbed some coffees and sat down to patiently wait.

clark monster!

clark monster!

as we gabbed and laughed, i took in the ambience.  i had been to sun in my belly for the first time earlier this year and remember having a great time.  the décor here is, of course, right up my alley with its whimsy hipster vibe.  mom loved the birds and birch trees on the walls that keep things simple and sweet.  the open space welcomes you and your friends; the whole feel is trendy and funky, unique and quirky, without being too predictable.  we were all big fans.

it was about 12:30, and our coffees were getting low.  i approached the hostess again to ask if our table was going to be ready soon.  i don’t like to be pushy, but when you have a reservation, it typically is supposed to cut down on your wait time.  just saying…  she said it was would be ready shortly, so i returned to the family.

another ten minutes go by, and the hostess approaches us this time, asking if we had already put down our name.  um, YES.  this honey was on the struggle bus that morning.  her aloof attitude was no longer amusing.

ah, at last, she grabs the menus, retrieves us, and shows us to our table.  i’m not sure if that’s how things are normally run, but hey, at least we got seated, right?

it was a later brunch at this point, so we were ready to order.  everything on the menu is quite appetizing to the eyes, but there comes a time when you just have to make a decision.  that time is when the waiter finally makes it around the rest of the guests and to you.  jibri was very accommodating to all of my questions, so i talked his ear off before choosing alison’s famous meatloaf sandwich.

before my meal arrived, though, uncle craig’s p.b.l.t. was brought to him nearly ten minutes before any of us were served.  he was a gentleman and waited to eat until we all got our dishes, but i hate that his yolk was congealed before he even took his first bite.

the p.b.l.t. is stacked high with pimento cheese + fried green tomatoes + thick-cut bacon + scallion aioli.  those tomatoes were tangy and delicious and firm and crispy on the outside and not mushy on the inside and may have been the best part, next to the pimento cheese, which was stellar, and this is coming from yours truly, a pimento cheese expert.  the bacon was super thick and chewy and a little more like ham, and i could have had it a little crispier.  the textures of the sandwich were just great.  although the bread was a bit thick, it was nicely toasted and was a good vessel for the savory sandwich.

next up was mom with the quiche of the day.  i don’t recall what it was called (recall, call, ha), but it had spinach and tomatoes and cauliflower.  classic tori dish.  when it first arrived, she thought she’d be hungry for more later because it looked a little on the small side, but after getting through it, she declared it was the perfect size.  the crust might have been her favorite part, which was perfectly flaky and buttery.

in true mom form, she also ordered a side of the black lentil salad.  that little half cup serving was perfect for the toria.  she couldn’t taste the dill at all, but the cranberries were an excellent addition bursting with flavor.

 

kari went par for the course as well, ordering the scrambled egg pressed panini.  squeezed between that brioche were egg, hook cheddar, and honey-glazed bacon, which our waiter jibri described as “out of this world.”  as an egg sandwich, it was solid and standard, and that’s the opinion of a woman who is the queen of egg sandwiches.  kari wasn’t too fond of the potatoes; they were a bit plain for her palette.  uncle craig had had some on his plate, too, and also felt they were a bit mediocre.  finally, that cute little fruit cup was fresh and ripe and tasty with the rest of her meal.

the brothers went with their gut instinct, as i should have, and had alison’s famous pimento cheese omelette with honey-glazed bacon and hashed potatoes on the side.  the bacon was a great texture addition, but you couldn’t really taste the honey.  the omelette was well-seasoned, there wasn’t an overload of cheese, and it was a good personal portion.  clark got done and was “happy-full” as he put it.  clark also wasn’t crazy about the potatoes and didn’t think they were necessary, but he ate them anyway because, you know, they’re carbs, and we never waste carbs.

ok, so i’ll finally tell you about the meatloaf sandwich.  it had horseradish cheddar and sun-dried tomato aioli and spicy dijon all on top of herb focaccia.  to be honest, it was a bit smaller than i expected and hoped it would be.  uncle craig shared it with me, and after his first bite, he thought it was too salty.  i, on the other hand, really liked all those flavors together.  the loaf itself was the tiniest bit too dry, but besides that, i enjoyed it and would gladly suggest it if you’re more in the mood for lunch than breakfast.

now, let’s get real for a moment about this red potato salad i ordered as my side.  i vividly remember having it the last time i dined here and really enjoying it.  i’m not a potato salad snob, but i know what i like and what i don’t like, and this potato salad ended up being a resounding no.  ah, such a disappointment!  while the bleu cheese was an outstanding idea, the potatoes needed to be cooked much longer; they were too crunchy.  and that dijon vinaigrette didn’t really meld with the other flavors.  all in all, this little side dish was not the bomb.com.

our sun in my belly experience started off a bit rough, what with the hostess and runners.  i remembered everything being a bit more on-point when we were here last, and kari shared the sentiment.  to our luck, though, our waiter jibri stepped up to the plate to be a delight while we dined.  he was friendly and chipper, just how everyone should be on a beautiful day.  we’d be happy to have him serve us again.

we walked out of the restaurant to a bright shining sun.  ah, what a lovely sunday afternoon!  the weekend had flown by too quickly for my liking, but i couldn’t be happier and more thankful that we got to spend it with family.  just wait until everyone’s in town for the wedding next week…ah!  the stories that will be told!

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