Down and Out in Denver

The ATL, y’all!

Posted in fashion, food, gays, travel by Blake on April 19, 2011

View of Piedmont Park from the 20th Floor

While Alastair was in New York for the weekend, I also flew East, but further South: to Atlanta to celebrate my Gentleman Friend’s birthday.  He’s from “the ATL,” as he calls it, and so we were able to stay at his parents’ apartment; they were conveniently out of town in Puerto Rico celebrating their anniversary.  The shot above was taken from the balcony of the GF’s parents’ apartment; they live in Midtown, overlooking Piedmont Park, which was devoted this past weekend to celebrating the Dogwood Festival.  Aside from the first night’s storms, we had perfect weather the entire time and a really fantastic time in Hotlanta.

My previous two or three experiences there had been for conferences and I had mostly stuck to the conference hotel and its environs, getting lost amid all the streets named Peachtree (Atlanta could invest in a few more street names; they’re free!), but this time, with the GF in the role of Julie McCoy, I saw lots of the city I’d never seen before.  That first night we dined across the park at the Park Tavern, which was probably the worst of the many meals we ate out.  The Park Tavern is a combination of a bar specializing in beer on tap, burger joint, and sushi bar.  Filled to the brim with straight folks on the make.  It was all just a little bit loud, and the queso with which we began was of the creamy variety (not the kind I was recently introduced to by our Oklahoma Gal Pal, which is essentially just melted cheese on a plate and far preferable).  After braving the stormy weather, we headed to one of the neighborhood gay bars (the parents live, coincidentally, in the heart of the gays), Blake’s on the Park.  I was feeling right at home!

The next morning, after nursing my hangover with some Tivoed HGTV (I do miss TV sometimes) we headed to the Flying Biscuit for brunch. Love their name!  Filled with biscuits and a chicken sandwich with bacon and cheddar (I’m not much for breakfast food), our day was just beginning: a trip to the Georgia Aquarium.  Not only did we take in all the fishes and sharks, but the GF had bought us tickets for the dolphin show, “A T & T Dolphin Tales,” which had only debuted a couple weeks previously. Here’s the thing: the aquarium itself was very impressive and while the dolphins themselves were adorable and their tricks were fun, the show itself was pretty dumb.  They had turned it into a Disney-style musical with an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatesque cape worn by some mythical ship captain who relied upon the dolphins to rescue him from a different evil ship captain.  Or something like that.  He sang about all of this drama and I got kind of confused. Thankfully we had saved the sea otters and Beluga whales for post-show, and they were adorable.  After that we needed to do some shopping.  The GF’s mother had suggested that we shop at Midtown’s “The Boy Next Door,” which seems to sell what my friends and I call “homosexual clothing”: lots of underwear and what the store itself calls “exciting summer swimwear.”  We went to Buckhead instead, home to two large malls. This is all I have to say about Buckhead’s malls: Alastair may be excited about the new H&M, but Atlanta has us beat.  There was a Vince and a Theory.  Be still my heart.

That night we dined at South City Kitchen.  Delicious.  Appetizers: fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and red pepper coulis; pork barbecue on a scallion hoecake with slaw.  Entrees: jambalaya and buttermilk fried chicken.  Dessert: banana pudding and pecan pie.  Desserts were not as great as everything else, but the meal itself was wonderful, including the GF’s “Country Thyme” lemonade: spiked lemonade with fresh thyme.  Our waitress, Autumn, was a little loopy, but very friendly.  And the neighbors at the next table, a flight attendant named Connie from Minnesota and her best gal pal joining her on a buddy pass, were delightful. While the GF was the only native (Autumn is from Connecticut), it was just southern hospitality and friendliness all around. (And, it must be said, just a wee bit of heartburn later that night, but well worth it.)

View of Atlanta through Botanical Gardens

But wait!  It wasn’t over.  There was still Sunday.  We had reservations at Watershed for brunch. And it, too, was scrumptious. Brainchild of Indigo Girl Emily Saliers, Watershed is located in lesbian-friendly Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta.  I had the shrimp and crab burger with fries and among the most delicious cole slaw I have ever tasted.  The GF got the sausage gravy with biscuits (that was the third meal in 24 hours in which he’d had biscuits; someone was missing his Southern home!).  We strolled around downtown Decatur, then toured Emory University, alma mater of the GF, and finally finished the afternoon with a walk through Atlanta’s Botanical Garden.  This must be said: while Denver’s Botanical Garden seems much smaller, it is also much more impressive and has, well, flowers.  And paths that lead somewhere instead of into what the GF called “traps”: seating areas devoid of flowers.  The ABG had just finished its “Atlanta Blooms” bulb extravaganza and was distinctly short on blooms of any sort.  A wee bit disappointing, but we hadn’t allotted it much time.

A scant few blooms at the Botanical Gardens

Finally, that night we dined in Virginia Highlands, another very cute Atlanta neighborhood, at Panita Thai Kitchen.  This little Thai restaurant, which had created a front garden for itself out of tubs of plants and herbs, seemed to be run as a one-woman show: she cooked, she poured, she served, she chatted with her guests.  And it was really tasty.  The spices reminded me of Thailand more than most Thai food I’ve eaten in the U.S.  This tom yum goong had a kick!  And the GF loved his fresh ginger tea and chicken curry.

We retired early that night to finish our taxes after 2.5 days of sunny weather, delicious food, and lovely sights.  If I had been skeptical about Atlanta before (and I admit it, I had been), my doubts had been quelled.  The ATL is delightful. And people really do say “y’all” quite a bit.

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One Response

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  1. Big Tex said, on April 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Generally despise the South, but seems nice actually!


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