The Last Resort.
It's one of Athens' favorite local restaurants and one I had been avoiding for too long. Perhaps it was the rumors of 1 hour waits or "expensive" food that would break a college student's budget. Or perhaps it was because I wanted this place to be perfect. Everyone I've talked to loves this place and to find anything wrong with it or to put it down would surely end in countless hate mails or raised eyebrows. Whatever my subconscious reason was, I finally put it aside and visited the Last Resort with my two best friends for a much needed reunion.
The first thing you should know is that there are Noooo Reservations-ah. You're gonna wait in line like the rest of us no matter how cold it is outside or you can just Momofukurself to some place else. Some people have a problem with it but I really don't mind the first come first serve policy. Inside, in true Athens fashion, you'll find a "updated rustic and slightly whimsical" decor (thanks DatealiciousATL!) in a tightly packed place. The tables are pretty close together so you probably don't want to do any gossiping or romantic talk here.
After a 30 minute wait, we finally sat down and started to look through our menus which took up half of our little table - each. Practical? Perhaps not. Fun and equally funny to watch people trying to navigate their menu in close quarters? Why, yes! After hearing so much about their fried green tomatoes, I had to get that to start and we got the Hanger, 1959 Chop and Spinach & Gorgonzola Salad to share around the table.
I think some miscommunication was going on between the kitchen and front of house that night because we got our fried green tomato app after the 2 tables that were seated after us. Not that big of a deal that night because I was deep in conversation with my best friends but on any other night - I may have gotten slightly agitated. After 25 minutes or so, our fried green tomatoes came out. What the dish lacks in presentation (a dice of red pepper and leaf of romaine? What's the purpose?) it makes up for in taste. The corneal batter added crunch and a nice sweetness to the dish. The vidalia bacon dressing that came on the side was delicious as well adding another layer of salty, sweet and savory flavors.
3 water jug refills and another lengthy wait later, our entrees arrived. The Hanger (hanger steak in a tomato veracruz) was delicious. The steak was cooked perfectly to a medium-rare, refreshing and I kept on going back to the dish to find and identify more flavors - a fun and well executed dish. The mashed potatoes that came on the side were also pretty good but the haricot verts were somewhat over - no crunch to them. Would I order it again? Absolutely. Recommended to my carnivore friends.
The 1959 Chop (pork shop stuffed with spinach, montrachet cheese, toasted caraway) on the other hand was somewhat of a letdown. It sounded delicious from the description but the caraway seeds overpowered the other flavors of the dish and became the dominant (and sole) flavor. However, the sweet potato the pork chop came over was absolutely delicious - best sweet potato mash I've had in a long time. Are you reading this Last Resort? I want the recipe for that sweet potato mash.
The Spinach & Gorgonzola salad (not pictured) wasn't bad either. The spicy walnuts had a surprising kick to them which I enjoyed with the creamy, tangy gorgonzola dressing. Not much to look at presentation wise but presentation lasts 3 seconds, taste lasts a lifetime.
So aside from the lackluster service, awful parking and incredibly annoying overhead heaters - how was the Last Resort? I like the place. It's got a homey, close-knit feeling to it and our food was delicious with the exception of the pork. Prices are very reasonable and the wait's not that bad as people make it out to be. I'll be back Last Resort - you've won me over. Now about that sweet potato mash recipe again...
- Do order a delicious cake or cheesecake after your meal
- Did I mention how much the parking blows right next to the restaurant? Prepare to walk a block or two if you're looking to eat on a weekend night. It is downtown so what did you expect?