By Parker Killenberg
Starting with the complimentary valet, the overwhelming hospitality of Staplehouse was apparent. Jen Hidinger and her late husband Ryan had the idea for Staplehouse many years ago, but it took a horrible tragedy and creative minds to turn their dreams into reality.
With the overflow of positive energy when you enter the restaurant, it is obvious that the foundation for this restaurant stemmed from a love story. The original concept started by Hidinger’s late husband and herself in January 2009. Five years after they moved to Atlanta, they started a business out of their home. They hosted strangers, about 10 guests at a time, at their home for dinner. It evolved from a dinner party turned into a restaurant out of their home. She would host, and he would cook “family-style dinner.”
In 2010, they decided they wanted to take the next step to form a business plan, and they started to look for a space. This gained a lot of momentum from press coverage and support from the local community. When their plans for starting a restaurant didn’t pan out, they resorted back to hosting their family dinners. On December 21, 2012, a surprise tragedy struck. Ryan was diagnosed with stage four gallbladder cancer. He was given four months to live.
To aid in their family’s struggle, a fundraiser “Team Hidi” was started. “It was a tidal wave of love,” Hidinger said. “This all happened in less than four weeks. $275,000 was raised that night.”
Due to the support they received in their time of need, Staplehouse was created as a for-profit subsidiary of their non-profit organization The Giving Kitchen. The Giving Kitchen offers aid to restaurant workers if they are faced with a crisis of any kind.
“If you work at a restaurant in any capacity, you can apply for a grant at the Giving Kitchen if you are in a crisis,” Hidinger said.
After receiving all of the help, the Hidingers realized that the idea of Staplehouse could still come to fruition.
“You have to fixate on your dreams in difficult times,” Hidinger said. “They can actually come true with a lot of help.”
Hidinger followed her dreams and created an award-winning eatery.
“We wanted to create a restaurant that was more than just a restaurant.” Hidinger said.
This was the central inspiration for the project. Hidinger wanted to create a unique restaurant. With her business partners, Ryan and his sister, Staplehouse went above and beyond their hopes. Ryan was the culinary mind behind Staplehouse and the main chef in the restaurant.
Ryan passed away in January 2014, but his dream lived on. In September 2016, Staplehouse opened. To pair with this magnificent story of a dream come true is excellent food prepared with careful thought for fresh ingredients and the consumer.
For the first dish, I had the liver tart with caramelized honey and almonds and blood orange. There were a lot of different flavors like the orange and honey. Along with the different flavors came interesting texture with the crust.
Recommended to me, the beef tartar was served with sunflower crisps and beef tendons and proved to be deliciously unique. This was garnished with a lemon and egg topping. The beef tendons and sunflower crisps perfectly combatted the chewiness of the beef tartar and were crunchy and tasted good with the dish and without. The flavor of lemon made the texture bearable and very good. The egg flavor was present in the dish, but it was not overpowering.
The mussels, served with celery and parsnip, were amazing, and the additions created a delicious flavor. This dish, like the rest, was served with a special addition that was unique to the restaurant and perfectly accented the food.
Grandma’s sweet potato bread, which is actually made from a recipe created by the owner’s grandma, was flavorful and gooey in little dough balls. It was salty with a unique twist of whipped olive oil.
The turnips and carrots dish was flavored with several spices, and the garnishes added needed crunch for a perfect meal.
For dessert, I had the sweet milk and granola dish. It had elements of sweet and sour flavors and contained chocolate and aerated buttermilk with brown pudding. It was the perfect end to a delightful meal.
Overall, the experience at Staplehouse was incredible with its welcoming atmosphere and twists on classic dishes. Proving that it’s earned the many accolades it’s won over the past year, Staplehouse is sure to impress the effervescent foodie or hungry diner looking for a good time