Atlanta’s Kevin Gillespie, the chef/owner of the trendsetting Gunshow in Glenwood Park and the down-homey Revival in Decatur, has opened a new place to drink and eat that promises to be another kind of popular surprise.
Communion is a German-style beer garden that sprang up earlier this month along with the April showers and flowers. Located in the backyard of Revival, the tableau of picnic tables, horseshoe and cornhole games, a cabana-like bar and a bright red food truck creates an easygoing outdoor scene.
Gillespie and Revival executive chef Andreas Muller offer takes on substantial German snacks, including Bavarian-style pretzels with hot mustard and grilled sausages with sauerkraut, mustard and beef fat-fried potatoes. Of course, there are venerable German beers, too, from traditional breweries such as Ayinger and Weihenstephaner, served in three sizes of dimpled glass steins.
But with all that, Communion may have as much in common with Decatur as Munich, not to mention a few refreshing local offerings like Wild Heaven White Blackbird Belgian-style saison.
“I’ve heard the term beer garden thrown around so many times,” Gillespie said during an interview last week. “Every time I hear somebody say it, I take it very literally because I’m kind of obsessed with German and Austrian culture.
“I love their approach to beer making and wine making, and I think they do beer gardens better than anybody. But the reality is that Munich is a different place and it has a certain feel and you’ll never re-create that in the United States. By that same token, there is some functionality and some design components that we could easily implement here.”
Among those things Gillespie put on his to-do list were the beer and food menus, and a payment method that uses tokens that cost $5 each and include tax and tip.
“The drink menu came first and foremost,” Gillespie said. “I’m a little bit of a European beer snob. I have the argument that they’ve been doing it for 1,000 years, and they clearly have something right. With all the craft beer, I think we’ve been losing sight of the fact that there are still some really fantastic traditionally brewed beers in the world.
“Also, from my point of view, German and Czech beers are some of the most sessionable. If I want to drink a beer outside in the sun, I don’t want a double IPA. I want a Munich helles lager. And I want it from the brewery that makes the best in the world. So those kinds of beers are always going to be on the list, be it an unfiltered hefeweizen or a dunkel lager, which is my absolute favorite style of German beer.”
As far as the food to go with the beer at Communion, Gillespie said that was a no-brainer.
“I’ve just been waiting for a reason to make currywurst, one of my favorite street food dishes from Berlin,” Gillespie laughed. “Honestly, this is just an open door for me to cook sausages. I am in love with German sausage-making. And German food and beer seems to be perfectly harmonious, regardless of which ones you choose. So you can pick any menu item and any beer and they’ll work together.”
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