We were big fans of Jen and Ryan's Sunday supperclub concept before we ever even got a taste. And after many attempts to reserve a spot via their email list (once they send out the invites, the guest list fills up within minutes!), we finally scored a spot. We're happy to say, the experience completely lived up to the hype. The food was awesome, the atmosphere - a rare treat, and the hosts themselves made us feel like we were old friends over for dinner. Set in their adorable Grant Park home, their five course meal and wine pairings are just the beginnings of what's in store for the upcoming Staplehouse. They're still in the planning stages of the restaurant; so in the meantime, they're introducing those lucky first-come, first-serve fans to the "Prelude".
We asked Chef Ryan to humor us with an interview and here's what he had to say:
SCOUT: How might people know you?
Ryan: I work at Muss & Turner’s and Jen from Seed Factory!
SCOUT: What’s your background and how’d you get to where you are today with Staplehouse?
Ryan: I started my carrier in Indianapolis working for Greg Hardesty at Recess, who is the best chef I’ve had the privilege of working with. When we moved to Atlanta six years ago, I was lucky enough to land a job working for Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison at Bacchanalia, and then again at Floataway Cafe. Their kitchens were a wonderful place to experience the best of what is available in the Atlanta market, and getting to use those products on a daily basis was a fantastic education. After leaving the Floataway kitchen, I took a position at Muss & Turners and have been there since. Muss & Turners has been a great place to call home. It’s also given me an opportunity to form relationships with farmers and patrons and start to develop my vision for Staplehouse.
SCOUT: What gave you the idea to do Prelude to Staplehouse?
Ryan: I realized that my name was relatively unknown in this city and, if I were to make a play to open up a place, we needed to meet people! Jen and I talked for a while about it and after doing a dinner in our home as a thank you gift for some friends, we decided to go for it. The idea is that by the time we open the doors of the restaurant, we won't be waiting six months for people to be curious enough to peek their heads in. This way, we hope to hit the ground running.
SCOUT: Favorite part of hosting in your home?
Ryan: I love that it shows people who we really are, what we are about. I love the intimacy of it.
SCOUT: Weirdest part?
Ryan: I think it’s great to see people's reactions when the Pixies come up on the iPod. We like to put our personality into the dinners from every aspect. That, and our neighbors reaction to the makeshift deep fryer on the front porch!
SCOUT: For those that have never had such a dining experience, explain what to expect from a night at Prelude to Staplehouse? Walk us through the evening...
Ryan: A reception usually starts at 5:30 on Sunday evenings. We pour cocktails of beer, wine and mixed drinks. Once everyone arrives, the dinner starts. We traditionally do 5 courses all paired with a beverage. As the courses come out I explain the motive and story behind each dish. When we are through, I save time for our guests to ask any questions they might have about the night or the project. Maybe one last cocktail! And then its goodbye.
SCOUT: What’s your favorite menu or single dish you’ve made so far?
Ryan: Oh man, that’s hard to answer.... ya see, I'm a little critical of my own food. Sounds funny, but I rarely am thrilled with it. I'm rather restless with it all. I guess if I had to pick one from the last menu we did, I'd say the duck sausage with Rock Star Farms greens, corn bread and duck jus was a keeper!
SCOUT: Favorite restaurant (besides your own) in Atlanta?
Ryan: We have a few: Pura Vida, Abattoir, Noni's, Brick Store Pub, Taco Mac (during NFL season).
SCOUT: Your favorite “curious find” in Atlanta?
Ryan: Listed in our favorite restaurants… Noni's on Edgewood. Jen and I are strong believers in what Matt Rupert has created over there. It’s a wonderful place that has a little bit of something for everyone. I could hang out there all day (if I ever had a day with nothing to do).
SCOUT: How did you two meet?
Ryan: In a grocery store! Jen was working there and I lived next door. I'd stop in just to buy a pack of bubble gum and to say hello. After a week or so of that, I decided to ask her out… she said no! So I tried again and we hit it off… ten years and counting!
SCOUT: And how about a Shameless Plug for Staplehouse? Where can people learn more/sign up?
Ryan: We aim to create a restaurant that keeps things interesting. Beer and wine dinners with people who share our passion for great ingredients and hospitality. A menu that changes with the landscape and our mood, so there is always something new and different for you to try. Not your typical restaurant. Expect old favorites mixed with exciting new dishes one night, and the next day something totally different! Thanks to everyone who has signed up! We really appreciate the support. Look for Staplehouse to be doing some fun stuff this year… coming up next, a beer dinner with our friend Mike Gallagher of Brick Store Pub!
And a P.S. to all those who ask: we hope to open sometime in the foreseeable future!
You can find out all the details here: staplehouse.com