For the last several month, all of the buzz on the restaurant blogs has been about the opening of Ford Fry’s newest venture, king + duke. When our daughter mentioned it (after reading about it on line) as a potential destination for her birthday dinner, I did not hesitate to make the reservation.
In the former Nava space, at the corner of West Paces and Peachtree, the first things I noticed when we walked in the door was the books lining the wall to my left and the inviting style.
The literary references were everywhere – the specialty cocktails were named after novels (the Yearling), the restaurant itself is named for two characters in Huck Finn and the wine list appears to be a leather bound book (each of the lists has different titles) with pages of plastic inserts containing the wine selection, interspersed with literary quotes.
We were nearly immediately seated in the front of the restaurant (farthest from the entrance, by the patio).
Where there had been cascading seating at Nava, there is now an upper dining room (at the top of the picture above). And at 7:45 on a Wednesday, the restaurant appeared to be was full. Maybe it’s the buzz of being the “new” restaurant in town, but we didn’t see a table stay empty all night.
Our server, Tim – who was excellent, explained the menu and mentioned that we needed to review the wine list even if we weren’t interested, as it had received several national write ups for its inventiveness of design. Our daughter mentioned the chalk sign over the bar and that it had been prepared by one of the top chalk typographers in the country – who knew there were such – and that she had been featured on several national magazine covers. The overall “look” was impressive.
We started with the crudités and the smoky sticky wings for the table.
The wings were aptly named as they were both sticky and smoky. And nearly impossible to eat with a knife and fork. And very tasty. I can’t comment on the crudités, which were served with a lemon ricotta, but heard the dish was good.
Before the apps arrived, these delectable popovers showed up
and didn’t last long. They were hot, incredibly light, had the perfect amount of gruyere and were amazing.
My beloved decided she was having seafood, which left her with three choices: Trout, prepared “Boy Scout style”, the market fish (which was a freshwater Washington state salmon, that the waiter described as very much like swordfish, as to texture and non-Pacific salmon-ish) and a lobster dish.
I was honestly hesitant to google “Boy Scout style”, for fear of the search results, but after consideration of the sides, she decided on the trout.
She said that it was quite tasty, although she’s not a fan of fish with the skin-on, which is apparently an element of “Boy Scout style”. We ordered a shared side for the table, spring snap peas with pancetta
They were fairly crispy (like French-style green beans) and were not at all what I expected. At the end of the meal, with every plate nearly empty, the peas looked pretty much like they did when they arrived, except for the one or two we had each eaten. As they cleared the table, Tim asked what we thought of everything. We replied that it was excellent. Then he scrunched up his eyebrows and looked at the peas. I said they were fine, but not what we expected. Without a request from us, they were removed them from the bill. As I said earlier, the service was excellent.
The birthday girl ordered the bar steak (which was listed as coal grilled with fries) and was pleasantly surprised when this steak frites showed up at the table.
Her steak was prepared exactly as ordered and there was not a bite remaining to be shared. The frites were exceptional in that way that only expertly doubled fries potatoes can be. And those were shared.
While I was direly tempted by the 40 oz ribeye for two, I settled for the bone-in New York strip
When I ordered, Tim said that it was served with bone marrow butter and I’ll have up say that by the time I ended with the bite from the left end of the steak in the photo, it was possibly the best bite of steak I’ve had since Cut. In fact, it was so good that I thought I wouldn’t take a chance on dessert because it would surely be a let down.
We almost declined desserts, until we:
A) saw the dessert menu; and
B) Tim said that they were relatively small (“four good bites”).
We decided on:
Strawberries and Cream (in the top photo), which was cheesecake, sweet cream and graham cracker crumbs; and
Dates and Ale (dates in cake, based in ale), which was very much like a bread pudding with dates. I described it at “wintry”. The waiter chose “sexy”. We collectively decided it was “very good.” That was Jo’s choice when she was getting her own (before we decided to share two among us) and she, honestly, hoarded it.
We had been huge fans of Nava and even though the menu had become somewhat dated, were still saddened to see it go. But I can say that it’s replacement has surpassed it in terms of quality and is living up to the hype.