The chicken at Bocado
The chicken at No. 246

Restaurants like the hot, hot No. 246 in Decatur Ga. and Bocado in Atlanta, aren’t diet hostile per se. They’re just a little short on strategies in the kitchen to layer on flavor without layering on fat.

All that farm-to-table, local, Italian-ish stuff on the menu relies heavily on butter, oil or other fattening ingredients to impart taste. And in the end, rather than celebrating the ingredients, it’s as if every single dish is buried deep in the folds of a down comforter of fat.

Even if you’re not The Restaurant Dieter, it’s got to get boring.┬áCan’t a vegetable like sweet potatoes exist on Bocado’s nightly changing menu without layering in nuts, brown butter or covering brussels sprouts in a bath of EVOO? Why are all the vegetable preparations among the sides at No. 246 fattening?

This past weekend was an all-eat-out weekend for us. Helpful servers found themselves pointing helplessly to the fish on the menu — as if that alone made something low fat. One did the eye roll and that friendly mock groan that said, “Buddy, you’ve come to the wrong place.” He followed it by saying, sheepishly, “Our chef is French.”

At both restaurants, I ordered the chicken, peeled off the fat crusted skin and ignored the fat transference vehicles such as the grits at Bocado and the bacon-and-sherry sauce at No. 246.

Bocado’s beet salad

Both servers did their best. They cheerfully assented to cheese and dressing “on the side” for salads. At No. 246 it was an uninspired salad with greens, strawberries, farmer cheese and pistachios with a balsamic vinaigrette. Bocado did better with a salad of beet, orange, avocado, hazelnuts, fennel, faro and a balsamic vinaigrette. The crunchy fennel and orange, combined with just a touch of the feta, both provided a kick that made it even easier to go light on the dressing.

If you’re not dieting, throw that down comforter of fat over yourself and go. Yawn.

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