Murphy’s law

December 3, 2011

The picture does not do it justice. I promise.

Some things are so certain they’re just like money in the bank. After a third dinner there over the span of a year, I think I can say with that kind of confidence that Murphy’s will consistently be a fine, fine meal. And that it would be damn near worth moving to Atlanta for.

And I can say with absolute certainty that the pork shank I had last night was the best piece of pig that had not been in contact with a barbecue pit for an extended period of time that I have ever had. Period. Ever. At all. I dreamed about that damn pork shank all night, and woke up thinking about it today, and would cheerfully go there tonight and eat another one.

Murphy’s is a combination bakery, wine shop and

 restaurant, located at the corner of Virginia and Highland in the heart of the trendy neighborhood that bears the name of those streets. (There’s a really good Thai restaurant around the corner, too, but I disremember its name.) I discovered it just by browsing the Interwebs about a year ago — in fact, exactly a year ago this weekend, when we were here for the SEC game and looking for a spot to eat somewhere other than around the hotel.

That time, I had the brisket, which was a lovely, homey meal I described here as “warm, loving and the essence of comfortable.” Don’t know that I can top that description; I bragged on the brisket and several of our party of eight had it and said my recommendation was well worthwhile.

The next time, it was a pork chop that, while excellent, paled in comparison to my dining companion’s duck confit, which was about the best thing I ever ate in my life. Details here.

And now the pork shank, the third Dear Sweet Baby Jesus meal I have had from Murphy’s, which leads me to canonize them as The Best Damn Restaurant In At-by-God-lanta.

It was braised. Braised for many hours, in a slow oven, in apple cider that caramelized itself all over it and into it and through it. And it had that same cider, reduced to a syrup, brushed over it as a glaze and, if my taste buds did not deceive me, roasted to a delectable stickiness that was just this side of crunchy, in a hot oven to finish. I’m not sure what spices were in the cider; they were unobtrusive, leaving the bright sweetness of the apples to get up close and personal with the succulent richness of the pork.

Have mercy.

It was a healthy sized shank, and probably yielded about as much meat as would come on a jumbo sized barbecue in a place where they pride themselves on you not going away hungry. I ate every morsel, except for those I shared with others at the table. I contemplated picking up the bone and gnawing it.

It was served with Savoy cabbage and cioppolini onions. I did not care. If I were going to serve it, I’d probably put it over polenta or mashed potatos, or nothing at all except a plate.

It was astounding, and I cannot wait until I can try it at home.

We ordered a round of appetizers — mussels, which were excellent; wild mushroom ravioli, which were excellent; and a cheese plate which was also pretty good. Someone had dessert; it wasn’t me.

And they have a cookbook. Which I just ordered. Hopefully it will have the pork shank recipe in it.

In any event, I am off to the ballgame, about which I do not care, but would not miss because it is a chance to come to Atlanta and I am not going to miss any chance to come to atlanta and eat at Murphy’s. Ever. Period. The end. If you and y’mama ‘n ’em come to Atlanta, take my word for it and try it.

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