For me, there is nothing more decadent than dining out for brunch. And so when I found myself with a free morning while visiting Atlanta this week, I couldn’t resist indulging in Southern brunch at Watershed Restaurant in Decatur. Like many people, I first learned of Watershed because of its well-known co-owner (Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls); I have over the years followed its menu and rave reviews and hoped for the opportunity to eat there.
The converted gas station is bright and airy- at the same time casual and elegant. The decor is minimalist, with serene shades of blue and green; vases of different shapes and sizes adorn shelves. Music suited to good conversation: Patsy Cline, Fleetwood Mac and Ricky Nelson.
Chef Joe Truex (pronounced “true-ex”) was kind enough to step out of the kitchen to sit with me for a few minutes. Chef Truex has only been at Watershed a few months, following in the footsteps of James Beard Award winner Chef Scott Peacock, who was at the restaurant since its inception eleven years ago. Prior to Watershed, Truex and his wife Chef Mihoko Obunai-Truex ran the successful Atlanta restaurant Repast (my mouth waters when I look at the Repast menu: Dark Chocolate Terrine with extra virgin olive oil, smoked sea salt toasted pistachios). A Louisiana native, he is inspired by local produce and seasonal food. He was thoughtful and sincere as he spoke to me about the delicate nature of entering the Watershed family and making his own contributions to its well-loved and established Southern menu.
Wonderful story: Joe’s doting aunt, who lived “in his backyard” in rural Louisiana, used to pay him $10 to make her french toast when he was twelve. And although his education and travels later took him down other paths including pre-med studies, Joe ultimately became a chef. And I’m so glad he did.
I began with a generous serving of Banana Fritters. They were hot and fresh from the frier and sprinkled lightly with confectionary sugar and cinnamon- no sauce to interfere with the taste of the sweet creamy banana inside.
My main course arrived in all its pristine glory. Perfectly poached eggs. Crusty white toast and rich creamy grits.
My server Cristina convinced me that the southern way to eat my roasted potatoes was with a dash of hot sauce- I complied and tried some Crystal hot sauce from Louisiana. It gave the potatos a nice bite and I think I will need to eat them this way from now on. Even if I do live in Connecticut.
I am saving for last the most sublime bacon I have ever eaten, a vestige of Chef Peacock’s tenure at Watershed.
Candied bacon- salty and fresh, cut thickly and sweetened with caramelized brown sugar. A paradisiac balance of salty and sweet.
A lovely morning and a scrumptious brunch. Although I dined alone at the restaurant, I felt as though I was eating home-cooked food at a friend’s kitchen table.
Chef Truex said in a 2007 interview for Star Chefs: “I appreciate the complexity of simplicity.” I have no doubt that he will enhance the culinary delights of the Watershed menu- I so look forward to returning in the future and tasting more of his simple and delectable contributions.
406 West Ponce De Leon Avenue
Decatur, Georgia 30030