I remember that the first review I read of Atlas was one of the last that John Kessler wrote before he left town last summer and he raved, particularly, about the artwork. He even upgraded the star rating based on the masterpieces on display. I kept it in mind as a place to go on a nice night out, but didn’t think any more about it until Atlas came in ranked at number four in Atlanta Magazine’s list of the fifty best restaurants in town back in January. When I thought about going out for a nice dinner this weekend, we discussed it and I made a reservation for Saturday at 6:00.
Located in the St. Regis hotel in Buckhead, the decor is definitely luxurious, but the usual masterpieces on display had been pulled for a new installation from Atlanta-based artist (through the month of March, I believe).
It has a fairly small interior, but a large courtyard with plenty of seating that would be marvelous on a night that was not quite this chilly. The menu changes weekly, with slight modifications throughout the week (I did overhear about a skate special told to the table behind us that we didn’t hear about). We studied the menu for a long time before making our decisions. We each chose a starter – my dear one began with a young sprouts salad,
which was composed of Vonnie’s sunflower shoots, pea sprouts, radish sprouts, house made buttermilk ricotta fill, black pepper and toasted sunflower seeds. We asked our server if the salads and appetizers were shareable and he said they were not, but this salad was definitely large enough to split. Because it was full of sprouts, we did not have to share it. I was told that it was glorious and the plate was cleaned. Instead of a salad, I chose the lightly cured yellowtail hiramasa.
Hiramasa is a large amberjack, which was served with Carolina Gold rice crackers, white grapefruit, Serrano peppers, pomegranate and cilantro. The amberjack was thin sliced, like a carpaccio, and the preparation was very interesting. This plate was definitely not shareable. On to the entrees.
Across the table was the seared wild striped bass, which was served with fennel, globe artichokes, pearl onions, broccoli and petite carrots with both blood orange vinaigrette and an artichoke vinaigrette. This was a thick piece of fish, flaky and firm and the preparation was spot on. The vinaigrettes were thick – they’re actually the two spots of color that you see by the fish.
I was leaning toward the burger, but in talking with our server, he pointed out that they had A5 Japanese Wagyu beef on the menu, which they have very infrequently. Just like in Jerry MaGuire, he “had me at Wagyu”. (I really didn’t hear anything after he said Wagyu.)
The beef, which was a melt-in-your-mouth perfect medium, was served with four kinds of potatoes (whipped, dauphine, small chips and thin steak fries) and shiitake mushrooms. The one piece of wagyu in the middle was braised (they serve it in one of the appetizers – a potato dumpling) and it was fine, but the grilled bites were exceptional. The whipped potatoes were phenomenally sweet – when we asked what made them so special, we were told that they boiled the potatoes down as long as possible to garner as much flavor as possible.
The house-made breads, which came to the table on a regular rotation, were very good and when we talked with our server about it, he said that he thought their pastry chef (who was responsible for the breads) was at the top of his game. That meant that we would definitely have a dessert and we decided to share the Atlas fair.
This was apple beignets, popcorn ice cream and vanilla-lemon custard, topped with cotton candy. The flavors definitely hearken you to the Midway, but I think we would have possibly enjoyed a more traditional dessert more.
The meal was very good and the service, in every aspect, was outstanding. I’d definitely recommend Atlas for a “big night” out. I did miss seeing the Picasso and Matisse – I guess we will have to go back.