Thursday, April 28, 2016



Our best-laid plans will yield to fate.
And we will say, “We lived. We ate.”
        From “Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations”
                                                Roy Blount, Jr.

By Malika Bowling and Doc Lawrence

Located Near Agnes Scott College
DECATUR, GA-Esteemed cookbook author and fabled restaurateur Edna Lewis spent her final years in this high-energy city, a close neighbor to Atlanta and Emory University. Just a block from highly regarded Revival, Chef Kevin Gillispie’s popular restaurant, New York Times best-selling author and humorist Roy Blount, Jr. began his career after graduating from Decatur High School. Renowned Agnes Scott College is less than a block away and nearby is the historic home of Mary Gay, a feisty survivor of the Civil War and, according to legend, one of the influences that became Scarlett O’Hara.

Decatur’s exploding restaurant scene reflects its unique blending of the better elements of the Old and New South.

Revival features Gillispie’s take on Southern dishes and fits seamlessly into booming downtown Decatur. Located in a beautiful home transformed from a residence without radical alteration, lunch there on a cloudless Saturday combined food, cocktails and wine enjoyed among gentle ambience like high ceilings, beautiful windows, original hardwood floors and a front porch that invited rocking chairs.

More than just a popular restaurant, Revival is a showcase of modern Southern hospitality.

Joining me for a midday feast was one of my favorite restaurant critics, the accomplished author, writer and commentator Malika Bowling.

Ready for Pie-Sous Chef Darryl Boyd with Malika
“It doesn't get more Southern that Kevin Gillespie's Revival,” Malika observed. “Establishing roots in a refurbished elegant Southern home, great care was taken to keep elements the same like the original windows and hardwood flooring. Artwork on the walls and above the fireplace mantle were created by Kevin Gillespie’s grandmother.”

Doc favored wine, selecting the Austrian white Gruner Veltliner, [“perfect for daylight dining,”] to accompany his entrée of fried catfish. The beverage list prompted an observation from Malika: “I believe in cocktails with weekend meals, be that brunch, lunch or dinner and the Last Word. The gin cocktail with lemonade was light and refreshing, just the kind you want during a leisurely luncheon. However, the small wine list has been curated with fantastic choices and I enjoyed the Pinot Noir that followed my cocktail.”

Though portions are relatively the same, lunch is more affordable than dinner with blue plate specials offering a main and two sides for $16. We shared a lunchtime delight, the southern chowder. “If this is available,” Malika says, “go for it as it is rarely available at lunch. While the batter on the country fried steak was fabulous,” she added, “the steak was surprisingly ordinary.” Doc’s cornmeal-battered fried catfish accompanied by hickory-smoked collard greens and English peas with country ham earned the proclamation as “a Deep South winner.”

Beautiful Woodwork Magnifies the Ambience
Communion, the back yard beer garden, is open just in time for spring, serving an entirely different menu (think German sausages) out of a food truck parked in the back. There's a convivial atmosphere complete with darts and more for a fun afternoon.

Revival and Communion juxtapose pleasant indoor dining with the free-wheeling, joyous outdoor experience. The relaxed lunch (Southerners don’t rush daytime meals) was extremely pleasant, thanks in great part to our fabulous server and the personable sous chef, Darryl Boyd who provided a charming tutorial on St. Augustine, Florida’s legendary Datil pepper.

The pièce de résistance was the original recipe lemon icebox pie, a sweet finish to a memorable Decatur lunch experience. Roy Blount, Jr. might want to include it in his next book about Southern desserts.

Note: Revival and Communion are located at 129 Church Street in Decatur. They offer have valet parking, so you can forgo the parking for a fee lot up the street.

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