I know I can’t be the only wife who gets anxiety attacks around my husband’s birthday. While it’s easy to buy for the kids, my husband drops hints, which is really annoying, thus every year I have to figure out what exactly he wants and why. Like me, food is always a good option and after going to dinner as a family of six on his actual birthday, I was fortunate enough to get an exclusive tasting invitation to Suwanee Park Tavern. Right in the heart of Suwanee Town Center, several establishments have occupied this space before, but this one is definitely a keeper. Fine dining – check! Casual sports bar appeal – check!! Weekend brunch is coming soon – DOUBLE CHECK!!!!!
Anytime someone invites me to a seven course entree tasting, I will make it my priority to be there. But this one had even more of an appeal since it was local – Suwanee Park Tavern, Suwanee, GA (yeah!) and the executive chef , Chef T. had been a finalist on Chef Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen.
Chef T – as she humbly introduced herself upon our arrival was equally excited to see us. She has a story to tell me and is confident that her newfound success is just the beginning. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY – a connection she had with my husband – she’s a former military line cook. She should feel great about how far she has come because her food was supremely awesome and Suwanee Park Tavern is lucky to have her at the helm.
Ok enough of me “talking”…here’s the rundown of the tasting and plenty of food pics! After reviewing the tasting menu, I opted to go with an wine staple, Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.
Chef T started us off with a chicken gumbo. Normally, I prefer the word “gumbo” to have word “seafood” in front of it, but what was served was a tasty thick soup accented with fried okra.
Post ‘soup’, we were introduced to a rich and creamy eggplant hummus. Who knew?! I think hummus has to be made with chickpea and obviously not. The presentation is given just as much thought as the spices in the food. Served on a wooden chopping board, the look and taste were smith. And the pita was warm and sliced in manageable triangle. While I appreciate her thoughtfulness by placing the spicy sauce in the middle, it Truthfully, I wanted the hummus to be a bit spicier. We also could have used more pitas because there’s actually more hummus than you think.
Next was an ahi tuna salad. Normally, I tend to stay away from foods that are too “fishy” – I know, I can be silly – but with encouragement from the birthday boy sitting across from me, I decided, why not? Pleasantly, I was surprised by the combination of flavored that the tuna had with the crunchy rice noodles, hint of seasoning and spice and jalapeño ginger dressing. A perfect little “zing” to the salad.
Let me say this, you have not tasted a shrimp taco this side of the Mississippi until you have had Chef T’s! It was our heaven on a mini tortilla! Lime butter with crunchy cabbage displayed the one shrimp – again, mini tortilla and this was a tasting – which also had cumin on it with added a smoky but not-too-heavy scent.
Coming off an awesome high with the shrimp taco, the next dish was the lone asterisk of the night. It could’ve been me, remember, I don’t do fish – but the scallop seemed to be all one flavor. My husband loved it and said it was seasoned well and grilled just above raw, but for me, it was the lowlight of the night. If you’re a fish lover, please do not take my word. Try it and trust Chef T.
Last major entree of the night was the “meatiest”, literally. A large portion of a delicious beef short rib over pimento cheese grits nicely topped with fried brussel sprouts. I loved the brussel sprouts and my husband said this was the best entree after the shrimp. While the short ribs were tender and tasty, there was just so much of it! Not everyone can cook short ribs properly but these were flavored all the way through and you could have eaten the entire dish with a spoon because there was no knife needed. For a tasting, Chef T was being generous – thank you! – but for final dish with stick-to-your-ribs grits, I think she could have dialed it back. Side note: am I the first person ever to complain about a restaurant giving me too much food?!!! I should be ashamed of myself…..
And finally the dessert! I was full, admittedly, but I have a sweet tooth and rarely turn down at least a bite of dessert. To cap off the night, a white wine cake was served. Who knew and didn’t tell me that you could substitute wine for water in cake mix?!? I may need to try this at home. And hoaa! Wine and sweet vanilla cake and frosting combined? AMAZING! After claiming not to have enough room in my stomach, I made room for this treat. Tell me it doesn’t look like a must-have! Plus it was my husband’s birthday.
I enthusiastically recommend Suwanee Park Tavern. Chef T is in a rare position as a woman leading men in the culinary arts and she should be applauded. Food was fabulous and the restaurant ambiance suggested comfort and class. For me, since I live in Suwanee, it was local and luxurious. Go check it out!