What is it?
In a city not known for its ready adaptation to change, the business flying under the banner "Form" on Habersham Street is a new model that's long overdue - but one that will take some open-mindedness.
It's part package fine wine store, part gourmet cheese, meats and foods store, part cheesecake retailer/wholesaler and part restaurant.
The faces behind the counter will look familiar. Brian Torres worked this location as manager of Eos. He launched Sugar Daddy's Wine and Food Bar; then left, taking barman and wine aficionado Claude Auerbach and Chef Chris Russell with him to open Form. The trio fit together like well-greased cogs.
Count on an eclectic mix of old and new world wines - including lots of labels you may not be that familiar with - but know that Auerbach is prepared to hand sell each and every one.
Torres had earned kudos for his lighter than angel's pillows cheesecakes at Eos, and now he's experimenting with flavors like pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. I had a piece - it's like chewing a mouthful of flavorful air. Torrres' cheesecake isn't medicinal, but I feel damned good while I eat it.
Chef Chris is Georgia cracker through and through, but along the way developed a masterful affinity for cooking, understanding flavor profiles and generally geeking out in the kitchen. He's one of few chefs preparing sous-vide dishes on a regular basis. He's also delves into the mystical world of food chemistry - creating flavored foams, faux caviar and painstakingly slow-cooked berry compotes.
The restaurant portion of the business is built around wine dinners that showcase Chef Chris and the wines that, not coincidentally, you can buy and take with you.
At a recent dinner, I sampled a stunningly beautiful Saxon-Brown Semillon, paired with Chef's endive salad with vinaigrette, lemon foam and pomegranate seeds. The combination lit up my palate like all three rings of the circus.
"Wow." That's all I could say, "Wow."
Dinners are by reservation, based upon Form's upcoming schedule of wine events. Call for details.
The cheese and meats case is extraordinary, and pricing seems to be very competitive compared to other area "gourmet" shops.
1801 Habersham St./236-7642
Kao Thai Cuisine owner Wasan Trimas told me last week that he's closing his popular Thai restaurant on Victory Drive in Thunderbolt at the "end of the month." The opening of Kao had been welcome by neighbors, who were wary of the former tenant, a tough dive bar frequently visited by police.
Trimas has another project on the drawing board that remains under wraps for the time being. But look for him to re-emerge downtown and in an entirely new setting.
The new upper deck seating at Local 11 Ten is open for business and provides a very cool nest among the oaks for cocktails and light bar food. I don't know how the white seat cushions will weather spring pollen and the bird population - but the view is excellent and the design very inviting to sit, sip and talk.