Taste

I find some irony in a restaurant named The Expat being one of the most popular new restaurants in Athens. A good irony though. The city is full of diverse culture, locals, college students, professionals, but each finds comfort in this 1930’s home-turned-restaurant. Owners Krista and Jerry Slater and executive chef Savannah Sasser make a winning team, each with their separate expertise. Krista is a certified sommelier and has developed a comprehensive wine list representing each wine center around the world. Jerry, who’s managed and owned multiple restaurants and co-authored The Southern Food Ways Alliance Guide to Cocktails, came in ready to stock an extensive bar and prepare a cocktail list full of creative takes on the classics. “Something that’s easy, comforting, but done well, can take a diner to a different place,” Sasser tells me. And of course she’s right. With her French culinary background and her access to so many fantastic local artisans and farmers, every dish on the menu is bound to be a crowd pleaser.

I’m thoroughly amazed at the number of other producers this restaurant is able to work with and it gets me more and more excited to see what’s in store for them as people from all walks of life continue to discover this gem. The menu is constantly changing depending on what is in season but some staples include bread from the Independent Baking Company across the street, produce from local farmers, and cheeses from the Hobo Cheese Company. The pasta is made in-house and even the shrimp come from the Georgia coast. So despite having a worldly menu, they’re constantly supporting other local business, all while serving up a delicious plate.

Though how exactly each dish is prepared may vary depending on what’s available and the whims of the experts. You can count on a solid spread of charcuterie and cheese to start off, skillfully crafted cocktails, beef, pasta, fish, fowl, and vegetarian plates and more to pair with the perfect wine, as well as desserts to leave the palate satisfied. I personally did not grow up in Athens, arguably making me an Expat, and you’ll find me there sipping an old fashioned and perusing the menu like a local because here, everyone’s home.

Expat6

Gougeres, a staple at The Expat, are traditionally made from choux pastry and Gruyere cheese. Choux pastry is started in a pan on the stovetop before being mixed with the Gruyere and transferred to a bag. It is then piped onto a sheet and baked in the oven. The complex process creates the most detectible French cheese puffs, almost like a biting into a savory cloud.

Expat2-Lagniappe
Expat1
Buvez1

SIP

Buvez! translates to the second person affirmative for “you eat”, or better understood as, “Here, drink up” in the most friendly, gregarious way possible. Pronounced “boo-vay,” the self- proclaimed Euro-style cafe is everything that I miss about living in Europe.

The French language, with its lilting and beautiful sound, is much like its food and drink - you don’t always know what it is or what it means, but it will always taste fabulous. Almost everything on the menu is European inspired with the exception of a few craft beers and comfort snacks like wasabi peas.

Owner Amanda tells me the creation of Buvez came as a way to satisfy her inner francofile. Let’s be honest, don’t we all have a bit of an obsession with French food and culture? She wanted to create a low key and family friendly atmosphere, inspired by Europe without taking itself too seriously. With the support of her husband Bain Mattox, owner of The World Famous, Automatic Pizza, and Normal Bar (both Athens staples) and Nicky, manager and coffee aficionado, Amanda has created an environment that invites the early morning caffeine addicts, the midday chai-loving book nerds, the after school friend hangs for snowballs, and the post dinner cocktail lovers.

She has also made a clear and concerted effort to feature local artisan drinks and food on the menu. The former tenants of Buvez’s adorable space next to the railroad tracks was 1000 Faces Coffee, who moved across town but continues to provide the cold brew used to make the simple syrup for their coffee snowball. The chocolate syrup is made from Condor Chocolates. The amazing chai tea latte that I had features a unique blend of spices by Three Porch Farms. Bread, pretzels, and pastries come from local artisans like Independent Bakers and The Comerian.

Amanda tells me, “It’s more than a coffee shop,” and I agree. There are comfy and modern couches, a fabulously loved industrial table, and even a swing. There are shelves of books and a giant bowl of blocks for kids. The idea is to have a welcoming environment and a list of drinks and snacks that is uncomplicated but top-tier. Thought and care have been put into every aspect of the environment and menu, making Buvez a welcoming spot for everyone, whether you’re from out of town or live around the corner. So stop by, grab a drink, and Buvez!

Buvez3

ARTISAN

Everyone loves a well-crafted chocolate bar or a creative truffle. But what impressed me about Condor Chocolates, now an Athens staple, was the care that goes into every one of their products, how many different treats they offer, and the fact that they’ve expanded to work with other local companies (see our Sip article to read more about how Buvez uses their chocolate syrup).

CondorChocolates6
CondorChocolates10

With an intriguing back story rooted in Ecuador, the founders of Condor Chocolates have cultivated a creative product with an authentic flavor. Much like coffee, their single-origin chocolate bars are bursting with flavor as it’s not muddled by a myriad of varieties. The cacao in each bar can be traced to specific farms, all in the founders’ ancestral country of Ecuador. The flavor profile depends on which farm pods are used and whether the cocao is mixed with other ingredients like milk, pecans, or cayenne.

Though they’ve made a name for themselves with these iconic bars, the chocolatiers behind the scenes are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to use the chocolate in their cafe. As I step through the door, someone is drinking the most epic-looking chocolate milkshake I’ve ever seen, served up in a classic diner glass, so thick you need a spoon.

One of the employees had to explain to me that a Cloud Boulder is a giant chocolate-and-caramel-covered marshmallow. And I can’t help but try every single one of the truffles, which rotate seasonally, as I don’t want to pass up the opportunity to taste flavors like Magnolia, Vegan Bourbon, and Mango Habanero. Though I had to stop there, I’m already looking forward to picking up some of their chocolate finishing sugar and honeycomb toffee next time I stop by; and I may just have to get one of those handcrafted milkshakes. The history and dedication to a quality product makes Condor Chocolates a treat to savor regularly.