Ba Bellies - Atlanta, GA
As a purveyor of foodie adventures, nothing screams at me more than restaurant week. I just happened to be in town for Gwinnett County Restaurant Week so of course I had to try one the twenty places on this years list. Lucky me Ba Bellies was not only that list, but also on Evil Bee Slayer's. Ba Bellies just opened in June so I was even more excited to try a new place. Heavens to Betsy is the food here tasty and delicious. We were able to try some things on their regular menu along with a couple restaurant week exclusives.
Evil Bee Slayer (EBS) tried the veggie options on the menu. She stared with the crispy tiger sprouts, which were brussels sprouts stir fried and tossed with lime, fish sauce, sherry vinegar, basil, mint, shallot, and thai chili. A little adventurous and a little weary at the same time, she tried it knowing that fish sauce was an ingredient and to her surprise she liked it. It had a fresh and tangy flavor from the lime, vinegar and fresh herbs that was balanced by the salty fish sauce. The restaurant week exclusive was the roasted cauliflower. EBS loved it so much for it's crispy tenderness and simplicity. She was also disappointed to find out it was special for the week and was/is hoping that it becomes a regular menu item.
I balanced our meal with all the meat on my side of the table. As soon as I read "fish sauce wings" I knew I had to have it. Ba Bellies knows how to use fish sauce in the right way. The wings were glazed over with sauce made from garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce, butter and chile flakes. It was also topped with picked radish and scallion. The overall flavor was sweet and salty. The picked radish helped balance it out as well. By far my favorite (well, before I got to dessert), was the shaking beef. Tender, simple and full of flavor. I loved the freshness that onions, tomatoes and water cress added. It was served with a side of rice and it was perfect.
The best part of a great meal always seems to be dessert. The Basil Creme Brûlée was a classic dessert with a twist. It had a subtle basil flavor that was intriguing. Neither of us had ever had basil in creme brûlée and of course we loved the burnt sugary crust on top. For me though, nothing could top the mango sticky rice. It took me back to happy memories from my childhood. The mango was perfectly sweet and ripe. The rice pudding was also perfectly sweet and sticky. I savored every single bite and would eat this over, again and again.
Ba Bellies was a great way to finish off my visit to Atlanta. The atmosphere is inviting and the people were friendly. Our server answered all of our questions and went searching for answers if she wasn't sure since they were so new. I hope they stick around long enough (and beyond) until my next visit.