On the ground floor of the swanky Liaison Hotel sits Art and Soul. The restaurant is owned by FSU alumnus, and Hamilton County native Art Smith. From our perch on the 7th floor the location was perfect and we invited our friends, and recent transplants to DC, Michael and Tanya to join us for dinner.
After making us presentable we made the short elevator ride down to the lobby. Art and Soul flows into the bar and entryway of the Liaison and allowed people to move freely between all three areas. Upon giving our name to the friendly hostess we were seated. The restaurant was sleek and modern with touches of Southern shabby sheik. Polished metal, clean lines, and modern lighting were mixed with chalk boards, touille printed drapery, and my favorite element, a wall covered entirely in dry beans.
Our waitress appeared with menus and immediately noticed our fidgeting kids. Crayons were produced and she offered to put their meals in right away to give them something to occupy their time. With Mason and Miss Julia taken care of I turned my attention to the beer menu and ordered a Rowdy by Atlas Brew Works while Becky opted for a glass of Riesling.
Tanya and Michael arrived moments after our drinks arrived and we ordered the snack board for the table. Devilled eggs, pork cracklings, pimento cheese, cured salmon, boudin balls, and salted butter crackers were served on a wooden board. A jam jar of spicy pickles completed the appetizer. As a member Baptist church in the rural South, devilled eggs are in my covered dish wheelhouse. These were respectable, although they could have used a bit more pickle juice. Becky enjoyed the pimento cheese while I loved both the cracklings and the boudin balls. The pickles were also delicious and packed a nice punch of heat.
For our entrees Becky opted for the shrimp and grits while I decided to try the Cajun boudin stuffed Amish Chicken. While waiting for our meals to arrive we caught up with our guest. Michael and I were working through their beer selection, and my next victim was a Citra and Lemon Peel Saison by 3 Stars Brewing Company, which was delicious.
The stuffed chicken arrived stuffed to the hilt with delicious Cajun boudin. The outside was nicely crisped and spring greens were sprinkled on top as a garnish. Additional sautéed greens sat under the chicken on a bed of vegetable infused pencil cob grits. An au jus of mustard greens and tarragon completed the dish. All of the flavors paired well together with the stuffed chicken being utterly delectable. The portion size was also very generous.
Becky’s meal consisted of grits covered in gravy, topped with shrimp and flecked with pieces of crisp bacon. Oddly green English peas were also included in the dish. Despite the inclusion of this non-traditional ingredient she enjoyed her dinner.
With dinner coming to a close, our waitress brought out the dessert menu. By this time Miss Julia was asleep on the bench and Mason was quietly playing Angry Birds. Becky decided to skip the sweetest part of the meal, while in good conscious I could not pass up the raspberry meringue tart. An oatmeal almond crust tart was stuffed with meringue and raspberries marinated in red wine. A scoop of lemon-thyme ice cream completed the plate. The freshness of the ice cream, lightness of the meringue, and the crunch of the tart crust made for a delicious ending to our night.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: