This year marks the 25th anniversary of French-born restaurateur Fabrice Vergez’s influence on Atlanta’s dining scene, first at (BLC) and now at F&B in Buckhead, where executive chef Gabriel Camargo’s fare continues to draw crowds. Here, we listen in on their shop talk. 3630 Peachtree Road NE, 404.254.1797
Chef Gabriel Camargo with owner Fabrice Vergez at F&B
I’ve been with F&B for almost six years now, and every position [including a job at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain] has helped me put my touch on the menu. We’re a French restaurant, but we have some other inspiration: a little Latin, a little European.
Some items I really like now are our octopus, which I think is one of the best in town, and our shrimp and white asparagus. We still have the classics, but we’re doing smaller, tapas-style portions so people can share and taste two or three plates.
Plus, we’re managing the kitchen very seasonally. We have some staples, but the rest of the menu changes four times a year. Nothing is frozen, so it allows us to change our dishes to keep it fresh for new customers and regulars.
Some of my highlights started with BLC. We received the 2003 Fine Dining Hall of Fame award from Nation’s Restaurant News, and Elliott Mackle, food critic for the AJC, ranked us as Atlanta’s No. 1 restaurant in order of merit in 1996. Since, we’ve experienced an explosion of very talented independent restaurateurs who have made Atlanta a dining destination.
A lot of our regulars have had kids that came to BLC. Now they’re adults and still coming [to F&B]. I’ve seen a generation growing up in the restaurant. It’s very rewarding.
Atlanta is becoming a lot more international, and the palates of our customers have evolved. For instance, when I was at BLC, we had a classic French skirt steak with fries and a salad, and I had a hard time selling it. Now it sells like hotcakes.
Yes, in 25 years in Atlanta, I have some winners. Some staples come from BLC days, such as mussels, white bean soup, tuna carpaccio and escargot.