The Imperial seems like a pretty big name for a fairly small space on a somewhat hidden corner of Decatur, but the clever design seems to make a big deal out of just that fact. It even opened early with a limited menu to feed locals who were going stir crazy after being confined to quarters thanks to the big snow and ice storm that hit Atlanta in late January 2014. Besides wings and things, Trivia is promised. The Imperial is off to a good, convivial start. The Imperial, 726 W. College Ave., Decatur, GA 30030, 404-464-5698.
After 17 years on Ponce de Leon Avenue, The Righteous Room has stepped out into the near ’burbs and opened a spot in Brookhaven. Fans of the famed late-night spot will find the same menu right down to the vegetarian chili and the terrific burger, available to the wee hours. This branch of The Righteous Room is open for lunch and dinner and is open late. The original is located at 1051 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, at N. Highland Ave., Plaza Theatre shopping center, 404-874-0939. Lunch & Dinner daily. The Righteous Room, Old Five Points Shopping Center, 2142 Johnson Ferry Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30319, 770-559-5678.
Ian Mendelsohn, former beverage director for The St. Regis Atlanta, and his wife Susan have opened Vine & Tap, a wine and brews bar in Buckhead. Zeb Stevenson, formerly with Livingston Restaurant + Bar and now executive chef at PARISH Foods & Goods, consulted on the menu, which offers a raft of small plates and tapas of Mediterranean culinary inspiration. No liquor is served, so the focus is entirely wine and brews. Mendelsohn has the right background for such a project, having served as sommelier everywhere from Windows on the World to The Mirage in Las Vegas before coming to the St. Regis. He promises to draw his wines from small producers from around the world. At least two taps will be devoted to local brews, Monday Night and SweetWater. Vine & Tap, 2770 Lenox Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30324, 404-600-5820.
Chefs Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere opened a second Bantam + Biddy on January 21, 2014. The newest location of the fast-casual concept is in the heart of Midtown on Crescent Avenue, and makes the third restaurant from the duo; the other two are Bantam + Biddy in Ansley Mall and Chick-a-Biddy in Atlantic Station. In addition to offering the same regional and pasture-raised poultry and organic, seasonal vegetables as at the other two establishments, the new restaurant has a caffeinated bonus: an espresso bar serving Batdorf & Bronson coffee. Farm-raised eggs from a local source, gluten-free offerings, meatloaf made from White Oak Pastures beef from near Albany, Ga., and sustainably raised pork are all part of the pair’s philosophy. A kids’ menu for children 10 and under also focuses on healthy fare. Bantam + Biddy, 1050 Crescent Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, 404-835-6450.
St. Cecilia by Atlanta restaurateur Ford Fry has opened, replacing Buckhead Life Restaurant Group’s BluePointe in Buckhead’s Pinnacle Building across from Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza. Seating 160 patrons, the restaurant is the design work of The Meyer Davis Studio. The massive, light-filled 11,000-square-foot space features a second floor private room that holds a hidden flat-screen TV. Playful, European beach-inspired photographs line the walls. Downstairs, three stone chef’s tables together seat 12 in front of the icy crudo bar. Continuing the hearth-centered cooking of King + Duke, which Fry opened in 2013, a roaring, mini-hearth visible in the shiny stainless steel open kitchen roasts the fish of the day. For more information, visit stceciliaatl.com or call 404-554-9995. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly. St. Cecilia, Pinnacle Building, 3455 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30326, 404-554-9995.
Atlanta restaurateur Tom Catherall has opened SHUCKS Oyster & Wine Bar in the Brookhaven Town Center, making this the third restaurant he owns in the center. SHUCKS features oysters from around the world, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade soups and seasonal salads along with craft beers, wine and Champagne. Catherall describes the sandwiches as creative; among them are Shucks Signature 5 Cheese, Jalapeño Cheese Popper and the Deconstructed French Onion Soup Sandwich, which features caramelized onions and Gruyère on French bread with a jus for dipping. Lunch Sat.-Sun., Dinner nightly. SHUCKS Oyster & Wine Bar, Brookhaven Town Center, 705 Town Blvd., Ste. 320, Atlanta, GA 30319, 404-846-1777 .
Keith Osborne, Nick Chaivarlis and T. Hunter Jefferson formed HKN Restaurants in 2012, and just a year later launched Ink & Elm with Atlanta-area native Stephen Sharp as executive chef. Sharp figures to change the menus frequently depending on the offerings of local purveyors. Oysters from remote shores compete with tilefish and Sapelo Island clams from closer to home. Asher Blue cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy and WayPoint Camembert from Sandy Springs’ CalyRoad Creamery grace the cheese plate. The wine list doesn’t include local wines, but there are several area-sourced selections among the beers. Ink & Elm sits right across from the main entrance to the Emory University campus. Dinner Tues.-Sun. Ink & Elm, 1577 N. Decatur Rd., Atlanta, GA 30307, 678-244-1541.
A sense of humor balanced by a sense of proportion invigorates the menu at Sobban, a Korean Southern Diner replacing Kitsch’n 155. Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor, who own popular Heirloom Market BBQ, took the space over and opened October 1. Lee is visible in the kitchen as she speeds from one pot to another. The pair describes a “sobban” as a “small, ornate wooden table used for humble meals during the Lee Dynasty,” (1392-1910). The menu blends Korean flavors with Southern dishes and relies on local ingredients for many items. Korean sweet potatoes (deep-fried) and Korean mustard adorn a fried bologna sandwich topped with kimchi. Deviled eggs sport a dab of kimchi and a spot of crispy fried rice. The place has been a hit from minute one, so plan to get there early for lunch. Lunch & Dinner Tues.-Sat. Sobban, 1788 Clairmont Rd., Decatur, GA 30033, 678-705-4233.
Referencing the slight pink ring that forms at the edge of a properly cooked barbecued meat, Smoke Ring is a new enterprise from the 101 Concepts group that includes Food 101, Cibo e Beve and Meehan's Public House. Open currently just for dinner, the restaurant will add lunch service soon, and will be open until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A native of Lawrenceville, Ga., Jordan Wakefield, who has been with Food 101 restaurants for several years, will head the culinary team. The menu hits all the high points of barbecue, from pulled pork to ribs and brisket to chicken. And don't forget the wings and deviled eggs. Dinner nightly. Smoke Ring, Castleberry Hill, 309 Nelson St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30313, 404-228-6377.
Nikolai's Roof Reopening After Extensive Renovation
Nikolai’s Roof reopened Friday, February 28, after briefly closing for renovations, unveiling a new look and new menu. Gone are the waiters’ white gloves and the silver domes after the million-dollar updo. In a nod to the restaurant's original Russian-influenced menu and embellishments, the new design concept from CMMI, Inc., is inspired by that same heritage, with a gray-and-cream color scheme suggesting icy Russian winters. Walnut wood tables and glass ribbon chandeliers are among the changes, while floor-to-ceiling wine cabinets highlighting an extensive wine selection surround a new dining niche for wine dinners and large groups. Chef de cuisine Stephanie Alderete, one of GAYOT’s 2013 Top 5 Rising Chefs in the U.S., has created a contemporary menu that acknowledges Nikolai’s Roof’s longtime Russian influences and it may be enjoyed à la carte or by requesting the three-, four- and six-course options starting at $55. Prices have been reduced by about 15 percent overall, according to Alderete. She has also created an early menu for $39 per person plus tax and tip that is only available from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Nikolai's Roof, Hilton Atlanta, 255 Courtland St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30303, 404-221-6362.
Half-priced Bottles of Wine Mondays at Hearth Pizza Tavern
At Sandy Springs' Hearth Pizza Tavern, a family-friendly establishment, bottles of wine are half price on Mondays. The tavern features a variety of inventive pizzas plus diners have the option to craft their own designer pies. Check for other daily and weekly specials. Hearth Pizza Tavern, The Exchange at Hammond Square, 5992 Roswell Rd. NE, Sandy Springs, GA 30328, 404-252-5378.
Rosebud Discontinues Lunch
Rosebud has decided to eliminate lunch service Monday through Thursday, but announced a Friday full bunch menu available from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Citing the need for a little "downtime," Rosebud continues brunch on the weekends, now beginning on both Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. The restaurant's popular peekytoe crab cakes, as well as some other "lunch" focused entrées, will be brought over to the brunch menu. Daily dinner service will begin at 5 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. and the bar opens at 4 p.m. Rosebud, 1397 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30306, 404-347-9747.
SoHo in Vinings has appointed Scott Warren as its executive chef, replacing longtime chef Joe Ahn who gave the menu the global reach for which the restaurant is known. Chef Warren is a University of Georgia graduate and an alum of the culinary program of the Art Institute of Atlanta. He has been sous chef at SoHo for three years. While he will bring his own culinary experiences to new dishes, he will also retain some of the restaurant's long-standing favorites, such as the seared sea bass and elk tenderloin. Chef Warren's other posts include market chef at the Corner Bakery Cafe and executive chef at Wahoo! A Decatur Grill. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly. SoHo, Vinings Jubilee, 4300 Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, GA 30339, 770-801-0069.
Cyrille Holota departed BLT Steak for an assignment in Bora Bora after years of working in Atlanta, first at Joël then at FAB downtown. As he departs, BLT’s general manager Nick Alicea took over the kitchen assignment. The New York City native just happens to be a classically-trained French chef with 20 years’ experience in the industry. He went front of the house about seven years ago and has roamed the planet studying and gaining experience. He has been with InterContinental Hotels Group as an assistant food and beverage director, and with the Dolce Group was the general manager of several properties. Wearing multiple hats seems to be no problem for Alicea, who will wear both general manager and top toque lids at Atlanta’s BLT Steak. BLT Steak, W Atlanta Downtown, 45 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-577-7601.
Atlantans often find themselves in Nashville, for business or pleasure. So many of its denizens will be interested to know of an important change at the city's highly regarded restaurant, The Catbird Seat. Its founding chefs, Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson, left their posts in July and December 2013, respectively. Anderson returned to Minneapolis, while Habiger remained with The Catbird Seat’s ownership, Strategic Hospitality, to take charge of Pinewood Social, opened in December 2013, as well as future projects. Strategic Hospitality cast a wide net to find a replacement, and has now announced the restaurant's new executive chef: former Noma sous chef Trevor Moran. The two-year-old Nashville restaurant zoomed to national notoriety under Habiger and Anderson, leaving Moran some big toques to fill. But coming from Noma gives him major credibility for the role. The Catbird Seat, 1171 Division St., Nashville, TN 37203, 615-810-8200.
MAR, a Decatur seafood restaurant with a Mexican theme, has closed its doors. However, we hear on the streets that the owner may develop a different concept for the location. MAR, 314 E. Howard Ave., Decatur, GA 30030, no phone.
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