Endive salad, deconstructed

There’s this myth that some groups don’t get fat. It surfaced in Mireille Guiliano’s 2004 “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” which became a New York Times bestseller, and more recently, “Gay Men Don’t Get Fat” in January 2012. The latter is by the elfin Simon Doonan, a former Barney’s window dresser, who lives in New York with his equally elfin husband, the potter and home fashion retailer, Jonathan Adler.

Buenos Aires, 2005
Buenos Aires, 2005

(As an aside, I’d like to report that the famously thin people of Buenos Aires really aren’t. Witness these pictures taken on my 2005 vacation, specifically to prove the guidebooks wrong.)

Anyway, a recent Saturday restaurant outing seemed destined to throw down the gauntlet on those myths. The Restaurant Dieter, his husband and two other couples had reservations at Atmosphere in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood. The restaurant is French. The staff and quite a number of the guests speak with impossibly charming accents. The menu is mother-sauced within an inch of its life.

Our sextet, on the other hand, were all gay men of a certain age. None of us is as thin as Doonan & Adler. On the other hand, none of us is as….robust as the average suburban husband sitting down for a beer and football on a typical weekend. (As this review embraces stereotypes, why not add that The Restaurant Dieter’s Spouse checked his Blackberry frequently throughout dinner for the score of the Detroit Lions game?) We were seated in the back room, right next to another group of gay men of a certain age. Did I miss the hostess tell our party: “Welcome to Atmosphere. Your table in the fat gay room is ready.”

The thin gays, some of them speaking French, were up front at the bar. On second thought, they might not have been gay at all. Anyone who’s played the game, “Gay or European?” knows that. (For the clueless, Google the video from Broadway’s “Legally Blond.”)

As Midtown is the epicenter of gay Atlanta, this restaurant knows we’d all like to be as elfin as Doonan & Adler. So when asked, “What on the menu is light and low fat?” the server — himself thin and either gay or European, or both — didn’t miss a beat. He identified a pan roasted trout amandine and said it could be prepared without added fat.

He also didn’t blink when I asked that a salad of Belgian endive, apple, walnuts and Roquefort cheese in a red wine vinaigrette come to the table completely deconstructed.┬áThis allowed me to limit the fattening parts — the cheese, dressing and nuts — to about a tablespoon each, which didn’t harm the combination in the least.

The trout picked up a slight sheen in the pan, probably from a little fat used to toast the slivered almonds. It was well-cooked, flaky but not dry, and tasted just fine with the almonds scraped off to the side. The added fat — olive oil and capers — came in a small portion cup that I left untouched. The fish came with haricot vert, baby carrots and fingerling potatoes, all prepared with minimal to no fat.

I left the restaurant feeling incredibly virtuous, especially because I didn’t get dessert. Others went for the profiterolles, but as this was a gaggle of gay guys, of course they shared.

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