Atlanta’s Coolest Supper Club Is Hidden Inside a Ceramics Studio
How a chef-turned-ceramicist created the hottest reservation in town.
For the last several years, Zach Meloy has been honing two distinct crafts. During five years at the helm of the now-shuttered restaurant Better Half, he quickly became one of Atlanta’s most celebrated chefs. But what most diners didn’t know is that Meloy holds a degree in ceramics and has been crafting dishware on the side for years.
Now he’s combining both passions at Dirt Church Ceramics, a ceramics studio with an underground supper club that he opened in Upper Westside this year. During the biweekly Mug of the Month Club dinners, five courses crafted by Meloy in an off-site kitchen are served in ceramic dinnerware made right here in his studio.
“I tried to be a little more intentional,” Meloy says. “[And during the pandemic] I had this idea for a ceramics studio where I can still feed people.”
Throughout his career, Meloy’s goal has always been to add a human touch to the dining experience—and that intention is especially evident in the dinner series where plates have his thumb prints in the molding and imperfect edges on bespoke bowls are a reminder that each piece is handmade.
When guests arrive at Dirt Church Ceramics in an unassuming, unmarked building, they’re welcomed with a cocktail in a handmade cup that is theirs to take home. The cozy salon and studio space plays lo-hi hip-hop to set the mood, but the long, candle-lit table set for 16 doesn’t need much help in that department.
The fall menu begins with a celery root soup served in a jagged, bulbous bowl that draws inspiration from the main ingredient itself. Purees of chestnut, black truffle, carrot, and tangerine with a celeriac pickle were arranged in a Stonehenge-like circle inside the bowl. The dish seemed too pretty to eat, and right as the thought crossed my mind, Meloy arrived tableside and poured warm soup in the bowl, drowning the colorful melange.
“Monks will spend days making a mandala with sand, and then they destroy it,” he says. “I think my food is the same way. Every week, I come up with these dishes, I obsess over them, and in the end, look. It’s all gone.”
Other dishes align with the ceramics they will be served on, like the sous-vide chicken entree, which is cheekily served on a plate with chicken feet imprinted on it. Meloy said he writes the menu for each season first, then gets to work in the ceramics studio to create each course’s corresponding dishware.
The meal ended with a Mexican chocolate caramel in a bowl with brown butter-washed bourbon cordial on the lid—a delicious combination that’s enhanced by the custom-made ceramics it is served in. As the meal comes to an end and the gorgeous plates with organic edges are whisked away, guests are left with the memory of a one-of-a-kind dinner orchestrated by a culinary potter who has clearly mastered both crafts.
Mug of the Month Club dinners are held every other weekend at Dirt Church Ceramics. Tickets are $185 per person and include a cocktail reception, tour of the ceramics studio, five-course dinner, and a custom mug available exclusively to dinner party guests.