In Agave’s open-air kitchen, large pots are steaming and trays of tomatoes and poblanos are roasting under a red flame. “Everything we do here is from scratch,” says the Cabbagetown restaurant’s new chef Bryan Yockey as he preps for a Friday night dinner. And, this kitchen is like a stage. “It feels like we invited friends over for dinner and they’re in the kitchen looking over our shoulder while we cook,” says manager Tim Pinkham.
A brand new shipment of produce, meat and seafood arrives daily at Agave. Tim explains that the logistics of that can be challenging to accomplish, but well worth the effort. “It makes everything taste so fresh and bright.” Bryan beams because he knows there are fresh fillets of Red Snapper that he’s about to prepare to go with his Veracruz sauce – a Spanish sauce of capers, olives, tomatoes and jalapenos. He’s topping that with a cilantro aioli. It’s that night’s special.
The weekend’s specials are always favorites and Agave regulars make sure to check the restaurant’s Facebook page on Friday to see what they are. Lately, Bryan has been making a lot of homemade pastas for the specials. “He’s been blowing us away,” says Tim.
While Bryan brings new energy and skills to the kitchen at Agave, the main menu stays the same. No need to panic because the hatch green chile stew, slow cooked short ribs, cayenne fried chicken and other favorites are still on the menu.
Agave has been in the neighborhood for 12 years and they spread neighborly love by offering plenty of deals. Fans are privy to exclusive deals by being on their email list, which sometimes offers are up to 30 percent off. Sign-up is on their website. And, from 5 to 7 p.m. each night at the tequila bar, they offer two-for-one appetizers – think Guajillo mussels, fresh guacamole and southwestern shrimp and poblano spring rolls to go with your house made margarita.
Getting to know Bryan Yockey
• He started his culinary career by going to work with his mom when he was 12. “It was peeling shrimp and onions – also, sweeping and mopping floors,” he recalls.
• He graduated at the top of his class at the Culinary Institute of Atlanta and eventually landed the role of sous chef at Barnsley Gardens before coming to Agave.
• His wife does pretty much all of the cooking at home. She is also a CIA graduate and loves to cook from scratch, but nothing too fancy: meatloaf, pot roast, cookies and brownies. (Bryan did make turkey enchiladas for Thanksgiving and smoked the turkey on the grill.)
• He’s been experimenting with chile. “I’ve been on a spicy kick lately.”
• His mom is the famous Fairy Godmother at Barnsley Gardens.
• He was raised in Georgia. “Fun to have someone raised right here and knows the city and surrounding areas,” says Tim of Agave’s new chef.