The Luminary – Atlanta, GA

When we made our visit to Fred’s Meat and Bread at the end of last year, I first noticed the Luminary as one of the cornerstones of Krog Street Market.  I had remembered reading about Atlanta Eli Kirshstein’s new French brasserie opening in late summer and made a note to give it a try.  Tonight, after dropping our daughter off at the airport, we were in town for an early Friday night dinner, so I made a reservation and off we went.  I was wondering about the name and learned while putting this post together that it is named after Atlanta’s first newspaper (1846 – 1848).  Interesting.    

Bright, open and inviting, the restaurant is very clean looking in stark black and whites.  It is fronted by a large bar facing the market (with a giant octopus painted on the wall above it), and a large raw bar that we walked by (in the right forefront of the picture below) on the way to our table.  We were seated against the back interior wall, with my view looking out onto the patio that faces Krog Street.

The menu is fairly limited, keeping with the brasserie nature, with several traditional entrees (confits, crepinettes and traillards).  We chose to go with two classics.  Jo chose the steak frites, 

which had a citrus-y butter and was cooked to a medium that you could slice with a butter knife.  The frites were excellent, with just the right amount of crunch.   I ordered the Croque Monsiuer

which was spectacular.  The bechamel sauce was creamy and the ham was thick sliced and warm, under the melted cheese.  It was a really excellent sandwich.  

But here’s the rub – while the food was good, the restaurant just wasn’t quite as nice as it looked.  It felt like serving us was an afterthought.  And it seemed like most of the tables around us got the same service.  The waiter was pleasant enough when he came to the table, but we both had the same impression when we left.  Maybe the focus is truly on the bar (we had a similar experience at H Harper Station and the Kimball House).  It seems that not starting off with something from a cocktail menu that is nearly the same size as the dinner menu put us in a “hole”. 

The waiter didn’t even offer dessert.  I realize that is a small thing, but how did he know that I didn’t have my heart set on the roasted apple with brown butter ice cream?  Maybe it was an off night, service-wise, based on some of the blog posts I’ve read, but the nearly neutral overall opinion does not lead me to believe that.  Will we go back?  Likely not, with so many restaurants in town that seem to care that you’ve chosen to dine there.

The Luminary on Urbanspoon

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