Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta celebrated its 7th anniversary this April. Their chef Linton Hopkins also was nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. He has been nominated for four years in a row. He will be competing this year against several other finalists including Charleston’s own Craig Deihl of Cypress. Linton Hopkins has been to Charleston many times. We were able to eat at his Wine and Food Festival Dine Around with Jeremiah Bacon at Carolina’s last year. Chef Hopkin’s team also runs the neighboring Holeman and Finch Public House. It is a smaller, slightly more casual version of the flagship Restaurant Eugene. In our past interview with Top Chef fan favorite Kevin Gillespie he told us that Holeman and Finch would be a required stop in order to have the perfect day of eating in Atlanta……so there we went.
The food was fantastic. We started off with one of Greg Best’s signature cocktails “The Oracle” (rye whiskey, lime, Regan’s orange bitters, with a splash of Theia jasmine liqueur) recommended by our excellent server Lee Starnes. We then progressed to a course of charcuterie, a crawfish pie and then fried rabbit livers with farro and candied kumquats.
Besides the great food our server Lee Starnes was also able to dish out some great Charleston connections. We decided to dig a little deeper and see if he could give us more insight into Holeman and Finch, Atlanta, and what else he was into these days.
Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) : Who was the chef here that you mentioned has worked in Charleston?
Starnes: James Ellington worked with Sean Brock and he does all our charcuterie here at Holeman and Finch.
CFB: You said you came to Charleston recently and ate at McCrady’s. What brought you to town? How often have you visited and where else have you eaten?
CFB: Have you lived in Atlanta for a long time?
I worked for a newspaper and did freelance architecture photography.
CFB: What does Lee do when he is not at Holeman and Finch?
Starnes: When I’m not at H&F, I’m a working photographer here in Atlanta. You can check my work at www.leestarnesphoto.com. If I’m not doing that, I’m on my bike. I try to drive as little as possible these days. The south kind of affords me that luxury. It allows the inner fat kid in me to not turn into a roly poly. After all, I eat at H&F nearly every shift I work.
(You should check out his website. He does some excellent work, especially with musicians!)
Lee’s Bakery is my go to for Bahn Mi in the city at 2.50 for a sandwich, you cannot go wrong. On the ethnic food Mecca of Buford Highway, its in an innocuous strip mall full of other ethnic stores. Absolutely legit. Just as authentic as it is in Vietnam.
Bell St. Burrito. This place’s menu is based off an old Burrito Joint, Tortilla’s. Tortillas was the hangout for so many of us years ago, and was the best burrito in the city for sure. Then Moe’s moved in a block away and Tortilla’s went under. Bell St. Burrito has resurrected the flavors so many of us craved for so many years. The red sauce and the beans could not be matched. Those heart strings are gently pulled every time I go down there.
CFB: What are you listening to in music these days?