My recent trip to Atlanta had me scouring OpenTable to find a pair of restaurants that would live up to some of the standards I've set for dining experiences in New York, but allowing myself to accept all that Atlanta had to give.
My first choice, and subsequently first reservation, was at The Globe Restaurant, which, conveniently, was walking distance from my hotel. It's fairly bright, clean and spacious yet semi-industrial space (note ceiling) giving it that urban edge that became quite a theme for the dining experiences of this trip (two. Urban Licks was the other one).
I was greeted by a hostess, Rachel, normally a waitress, who accomodated me and my laptop (they had free Wi-Fi) to a tiny, curtained off area with a two-top sandwiched in between the main lobby area and two separate dining areas. This was perfect and allowed me some privacy to do some work at the same time be voyeuristic (you could see through the curtain).
So on to the food. Here's what I ordered:
Seared Tuna w/lentil salsa
Seared tuna is so overplayed and I was skeptical when it was suggested that I try it. My last experience, at Suba in NYC, proved that tuna was out as far as I was concerned but what the heck, maybe they do it differently down here. And sure enough...the tuna was no different. Cut into even squares and neatly arranged on a bed of lentil salsa, it was just the same old same old. However, what made the dish was the lentil salsa. Tuna IS just Tuna, and I think the chef understands this. So he's paid attention to the accompaniment, both a novel approach as well as a great food cost measure. This lentil salsa was delicious, with plenty of heat and fully flavorful. It looked like a mix of du puys and perhaps another variety, mixed with chiles of an unknown variety. Definitely worth giving it a go, strictly for the salsa and any tuna craving or seafood restrictions you may have.
After having the tempura string beans at The Red Cat (in NYC), I just had to give these a whirl. I like the selection: a variety of asparagus, haricot verts and mushrooms, but was disappointed with the tempura batter. Not all of the tempura stayed stuck on the vegetables and the flavor combo of batter and vegetable didn't quite pop as much as I'd like. The lemon aioli was good, and appropriate to the region, but I definitely liked the spicy mustard dipping sauce provided at The Red Cat. Infinitely better for the dish as a whole. Overall, if I'd never had something like this before, I'd like it but it just doesn't come close to The Red Cat's version.
Grilled Flat Iron Steak & Frites
This was a grilled, flat iron steak with frites. That's about as much as I can tell you other than the fact that a perfectly good, accurately cooked (medium rare to a tee) piece of steak was nearly ruined by the lump of herbed butter that crowned it and, unfortunately dripped all over the meat. What a shame. I guess this is par for the southern course, or maybe a note taken from previous employment at Ruth Chris' Steakhouse, but in no way is it necessary. In fact, it really damaged the quality of the dish. Please leave the butter off! For such a clean and upscale looking place, you'd kind of expect them to know better. The meat was good enough without it.
It was huge, with no less than 4 distinct areas including a bar, "living room", lounge and an extensive series of tables that take up the real estate along a glass walled distance the length of the restaurant. Rachel was kind enough to give me a tour afterwards, something that was remarkably professional and genuinely courteous. She's a great host/waitress/person who will no doubt do well in the marketing/advertising field once she gets in it.
The Globe Restaurant, despite having the luxe space, and relatively minimal sense of competition in the general vicinity, I couldn't help but be surprised at how pedestrian the menu was. This is a blank canvas ready to be tackled yet the menu was very "safe".
I think that this restaurant still has yet to grow into its own. I'm guessing here, but it almost seems as though they are taking it easy with the menu to see if it gets a loyal following first.
Once things get moving, the staff settles in and the chef feels comfortable enough (or rather the owner(s) feel comfortable with the chef), this menu will change to be one that offers more interesting, complex items -but still keeping them simple. I think it will become like The Red Cat in a sense. But that will take some slight risks that I think the people of Atlanta are certainly willing to try.