Talk of the Table: Poor Calvin’s, ATL
Though he may maintain a tight budget—it’s how his restaurant got its name, after all—Calvin Phan has the skills and passion to put a unique spin on seemingly straightforward meals at his restaurant, Poor Calvin’s.
Originally hailing from Vietnam, Calvin eventually moved to Germany, where—to this day—his family owns multiple restaurants. Calvin made the impressive progression of washing dishes at his parents’ restaurants, to attending culinary school, to working as a chef in Switzerland. In 2012, he teamed up with two of his friends to transform an old Irish pub in Atlanta into what is now Poor Calvin’s.
From fried chicken paired with rich lobster mac & cheese to Angus beef tips with sweet soy glaze, Calvin fuses Eastern flavors with Western recipes while consciously using the freshest and most flavorful of ingredients. For Calvin, it’s the people of the city who initially compelled him to open a restaurant, and it’s their open-mindedness that encourages him to continue to experiment.
“Atlanta is growing with people coming from all over the place — it’s such a big transplant city,” Calvin says. “On top of that, compared to ten years ago, people are so much more willing to try new things.”
If he had to choose a dish on his menu to eat for the rest of his life, Calvin would go with his signature fried chicken with lobster mac & cheese. By pairing the chicken with lobster mac & cheese, he gives comfort food an upscale feel — the combination of which is a common theme throughout his menu.
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Images by Emily Schultz.