VIEWS FOR YOUR BREWS, A RITZ REDO, ITP AND OTP SIZZLE, PLUS BIG THINGS COOKING UNDER THE NEW DOME
DEPENDING ON THE WEATHER, you can go up on the roof to soothe what ales you or tuck into a massive bowl of Japanese ramen. Plenty is percolating in the kitchens of metro Atlanta’s movers and shakers. Here’s a taste.
The operators (also behind rooftop neighbor Skyline Park) have created an of-the-moment experience that’s true to PCM’s historic charm and the old-timey carnival atmosphere. Inside Nine Mile, expect a high-design beer hall with cool, green tile and warm, dark wood.
The taps feature a dozen high-end craft beers brewed from Atlanta to Asheville, and from Austin to Grimstad, Norway. For noshing, try the fried sweet peppers stuffed with a savory crab salad, pressed sandwiches and meats like bratwurst, kielbasa and merguez ordered “by the inch.” Minimum spends are required to reach the rooftop, but they’re worth it to get those views with your brews.
Atlanta’s craving for Japanese ramen, massive bowls of fragrant, umami-rich broths stocked with tangled egg noodles and other ingredients, meets its match at Nexto in the Old Fourth Ward. Chef Mihoko Obunai, a nationally recognized ramen master who’d been doing pop-up meals around town, has landed on Ralph McGill Boulevard in what looks like a space-age tin shed with its own alien in neon.
If soup isn’t your thing, this spot offers cold dishes like wagyu beef tartare, hot dishes like steamed buns filled with crispy eel, and hot charcoal-grilled dishes like duck meatballs. Cocktails like the plum sour are pretty nifty too.
Long before farm-to-table Southern cooking was all the rage, the downtown Ritz-Carlton’s Atlanta Grill served sophisticated Southern hospitality to out-of-towners and locals alike.
Now, after a skillful makeover (and name change), the rechristened AG offers updated menus, a revamped cocktail program (featuring seven types of ice) and refreshed, transitional-style interiors. Chef Joshua Fryer pays homage to Southern classics (fried green tomatoes, she-crab soup, pan-roasted scallops), then gets decadent with his Southern-fried chicken doughnut, a riff on chicken and waffles with a glazed doughnut supporting a perfectly fried chicken breast.
American Cut, the long-promised LDV Hospitality steakhouse, has arrived at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta with three stories of big-city swagger. This version of the New York City concept has a ground-floor bar and lounge and a swank open-air rooftop dubbed the Regent Cocktail Club.
On the second floor you’re welcomed by a portrait of a young James Brown, then enter a luxe dining room of art deco and midcentury aesthetics and a soundtrack that’s more Motown than traditional steakhouse Sinatra.
Signature dishes include a Caesar salad prepared tableside, a chili lobster dish served in a warm fragrant broth with Texas-sized Texas toast, a 40-ounce tomahawk chop steak, and a smoked pastrami porterhouse that may be the most explosively flavored and unusually prepared meat in town. With a robust energy and refined aesthetic, American Cut goes confidently into the Buckhead steakhouse fray.
With his new seafood concept, Noble Fin, chef Jay Swift resurfaces (pun intended) after the recent shuttering of Fourth and Swift at the competitive Ponce City Market. Swift spreads his wings, er, gills, in Peachtree Corners, where he’s delighting the OTP crowd with a seafood bounty in a space that’s understatedly elegant, with a front-of-house bar and back-of-house open kitchen.
Swift enlists the talents of his son, Jeb Alrich (Joel, Canoe), as co-pilot. The duo keeps true to seafood classics like lobster rolls, fried calamari, fried oyster po’boys, clam chowder and a Maryland crab-cake sandwich.
You’ll also find perfectly cooked fresh fish like steelhead salmon, Georgia rainbow trout, pan-roasted branzino and seared diver scallops. This is another huge win for the suburbs and perhaps a sign that intown’s restaurant reign has peaked.
Fresh from being named one of the Top 100 Steakhouses in the United States by Forbes, Roswell’s Little Alley Steak says it will establish a second outpost in the former AJA location in Buckhead. Sharpen your knife for some top-tier red meat in spring 2017.
The brothers behind Roswell’s Table and Main and Osteria Mattone have hit Alpharetta with Coalition Food and Beverage. It will feature street-style art and “a casually cool, throwback playlist.” Look for wood-fired classics, premium meats, salads, burgers, and craft beers and cocktails on the menu, sometime this summer.
In a continuing makeover, the Woodruff Arts Center’s Twelve Eighty — Inspired Dining has nabbed former Villa Christina executive chef Andreas Georgakopoulos as its chef de cuisine. Expect global cuisine with a Southern twist, like maple bourbon salmon, ahi tuna salads and seared Maple Leaf Farms duck breast.
Krog Street Market has announced the final player for its impressive food court stalls: a second Varuni Napoli, the much-loved Midtown Neapolitan pizza joint. Pie-spinning pizzaiolo and Naples native Luca Varuni plans to be serving piping hot pies early in the new year.
Avalon, Alpharetta’s mixed-use mecca, continues to accumulate top talent with the spring opening of Brine Modern Seafood Shack from executive chef/owner Marc Taft (Chicken and the Egg). Taft describes the concept as a Cape Cod-meets-Santa Monica menu, with a rooftop bar serving tiki-style cocktails, a fire pit and a retractable roof.
Fast-casual juggernaut Taqueria del Sol has announced plans to plant its Tex-Mex grub in Chamblee (March) and Grant Park (fall 2017).
Finally, expect as much hype about the food offerings as the sports at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Signing on are Antico Pizza; Golden Brown & Delicious, a Southern concept from Atlanta’s Concentrics group; Delia’s Chicken Sausage; Farm Burger; Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q; Iberian Pig; and chef Kevin Gillespie’s Gamechanger.
Maybe it was the peculiar name or the unsettling roast pig-turkey image on the dishes. Regardless, Krog Street Market’s original anchor, The Cockentrice, is gone. Its coveted spot was quickly claimed by Castellucci Hospitality Group (Cooks and Soldiers, Iberian Pig, Double Zero Neapolitan), who have yet to announce the name or concept but are aiming for a spring 2017 opening.
Food for Thought, Encore Atlanta’s bimonthly dining column, keeps you updated on openings, closings and what chefs are up to in one of three categories — well done (reasons for praise), simmering (what’s in the works) and toast (what’s closed, etc.). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.