At the new Two Birds Taphouse in Marietta, chef Justin Balmes presents elevated pub grub on a menu that includes the likes of dry-rubbed and smoked wings, topped with a flutter of grated Manchego cheese, and plated with avocado, jalapeno and garlic dressing and baby turnips.
But what may be Balmes’ signature item, a pork loin schnitzel, is an homage to his former boss, chef Shaun Doty, who featured a similar dish at his now-defunct Shaun’s Restaurant in Inman Park.
“It’s something that goes back to my roots, for sure,” says Balmes, who is a former “Food Network Star” finalist. “We use Riverview Farms local pork, with Gouda fonduta as the base, charred Vidalia onions and a lot of flavors of the season.”
When I fell in love with the hearty, crispy-crusted schnitzel, it was topped with local summer peaches, strawberries and Fresno chiles. But look for those ingredients to rotate for fall and winter, along with the rest of the menu.
“I’ve always been focused on honest, simple food,” Balmes says. “My personal philosophy is source the best and prepare it with respect.”
52 Powder Springs St. S.E., Marietta. 678-324-7205, twobirdstaphouse.com.