Hi Chowhounds -
The husband and I just got back from 7 great days in Atlanta. Went for a conference, but stayed another 3 days for fun on our own. We had some great meals and adventures. Overall, I liked Atlanta - our first visit, but it won't be our last. I did quite a bit of research on our dining picks before we went. We like locally-owned, good wine list, great gourmet food, and unique interiors. We hit them all. I took recommendations from this board, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, and Wine Enthusiast.
Night #1 - Repast (in Midtown). Our overall favorite. We went late the first night we arrived, following a reception, and lucked out hitting the place on a midweek night at about 9 pm. The staff was relaxed and friendly. We lucked out getting the best waiter - Daniel (ask for him!) He was very friendly, professional, and had great recommendations. Because of his great service and the wonderful and interesting food, we canceled one of our other recommendations and returned on Saturday night. A neighborhood spot that's becoming more well known around the country. Contemporary American with a broad and interesting wine list. We WILL return when we get back to Atlanta someday. (I order the special entre for the evening - Seared scallops on greens. SO GOOD! and cooked perfectly!)
Night #2 - Dolce (Atlantic Station) -We were with our convention group at Atlantic Station and left the group to go to dinner. We went in DOLCE Enotecca. It's owned by a restaurant group. Really interesting and pretty interior. The food was good but not outstanding. We enjoyed our appetizers mostly. The wine steward made some good recommendations and we liked our $60 bottle of Italian wine very much. We felt a little old being there. Like it was more of a bar for young people to see and be seen. Good. Probably won't return.
Night #3 - Two Urban Licks (Midtown) -We had a guy with us and we needed to go somewhere FUN with a broad menu. (He's not as adventurous of a diner as we are.) We hit it spot on at Two Urban Licks. We had an early reservation (6:30 pm) and the place was busy, but even more packed when we left at 8:30. It's big and noisy, but unique too. The giant rotisserie meat-smoker is unique. The bar was hopping. The stainless vats for wine is different and the fact that you can order from 3 oz. up to a 32 oz carafe is fun and interesting. An interesting menu. Kind of comfort food, ramped up a notch. I went against my usual ordering trend, and ordered braised pork and mac & cheese - it was wonderful! Really tender and yummy! The vanilla-pear and pomegranate salad was pretty and tasty too. I liked the whole experience of this place. Good for groups looking for a fun time. It's a little tought to find - and the parking is another experience. I've never seen valet parking be such a SCENE in itself before! By the way - after this we drove over to hear some old-school blues in a great old bar in Virginia Highland called Blind Willies. Smokey, dirty, and a place you defintely would NOT want to eat. But the gin & tonics and MUSIC were great.
Night #4 - Repast again. We returned here even though we had a reservation elsewhere. We couldn't get over how much we LOVED Repast. Everything about it - the food, the service, the space and interior, the wine. So much to like. So the husband called over and they said they could fit us in if we came EARLY which we did. We asked for Daniel again. This time the pace was very different - because it was Saturday and their reservation book was full. I didn't like what I ordered quite as well. But my husband ordered the skirt steak and couldn't stop saying it was SO SO good! (tasty and tender).Daniel's service was still spot on. But still - if we lived in Atlanta this would be our go-to place for every week. Perfect in every way.
Day #5 - Sunday Brunch - Watershed (Dacatur) -
I had read about this place (who hasn't) and the famous chef, Scott Peacock. Unfortunately, we should have planned to come here for lunch or dinner. But on Sunday they're only open for brunch and I was a bit disappointed in the menu choices. My husband had badly wanted to try the fried chicken we'd read about (in the NY Times dining section!) and I wanted to try his famous Shrimp & Grits. Neither were on the brunch menu. But we still enjoyed it. We ordered...breakfasty stuff that was all just good...but ordered the Cheese Pimento sandwich as an appetizer and that was wonderful! (Thank you Gourmet magazine for the rec!) We both thought that was something we HAD to try when in Atlanta and it did not disappoint. We also LOVED the interior of this restaurant space - light, airy, open, with subtle pastel colors. The peeps dining there were all beautiful people who had driven there Range Rovers in for brunch. Dressed smartly too. Next time we're in Atlanta we will plan ahead to go here for dinner so that we can try the darn fried chicken and have some of their good looking wines!
Day #5 - dinner - Sotto Sotto (just west of downtown in Highland Park)
Such a cool little Italian spot. The people are packed in. We got a great waiter who seemed to know just what we'd like and make great recommendations that we LOVED. So glad we went here. A fairly traditional northern Italian menu - but things are done with care and done well. The waiter told us "good choice" when we picked out meat & cheese platter for an appetizer to enjoy with our wine. He then suggested that what they do really well are their own homemade pastas and told us his favorites. We took his advice. The hub ordered the lasagna (untraditional and kind of deconstructed) and loved it, and I LOVE love loved my chicken & lamb raviolis with browned butter and sage. Oh my gosh! Those were so good I was almost moaning (and embarrassing the hub!). Portions were good-sized but not overwhelming. We shared panna cotta for dessert which had an interesting twist with a spattering of balsamic over it. We really enjoyed our dinner here. Would return. It's the kind of place I WISH we had back home down the street. This place was also PACKED on a Sunday night at 8 p.m. A good sign. They know what they're doing and do it well.
Day #6 - Canoe (Vinings north of Buckhead)
It was on these boards that I learned about Canoe - an older but very popular restaurant along the banks of the Ch-something River. I booked it early so that we could arrive and enjoy the view. The drive up through the neighborhood was crazy - the neighborhood of mansions, or rather castles that the winding road goes through up to Canoe is crazy! We were oohing and awing and that was fun too. An unassuming building from the outside - the interior space was quite lovely. We asked for a table by a window so that we could enjoy the view. We had a very nice waiter who encouraged us to take our time, and enjoy a stroll through their garden while we enjoyed our first glass of wine (how nice not to hurry us!) So we did and that's part of the charm. They have an impressive wine list and a menu that changes daily. Their bread basket offered four choices, all prepared fresh on the premises. We shared the smoked salmon appetizer (very nice!) on crispy potatoe cake and that was wonderful. The kitchen split it onto two plates without us asking. The starters the hub had their famous navy bean soup which he loved and I had their special soup - She-crab soup which was very tasty. The hub got pork three ways which he really liked but it looked really heavy to me (and he had a stomach ache the rest of the evening!). I probably ordered a poor choice - Georgia Mountain Trout with grits (they were blue and not very creamy)and minced green beans. This dish just didn't thrill me and the minced green beans was actually my favorite part. It was all kind of thick and tasteless and I had a hard time eating much of it. We were too full for dessert. The waiter did a very nice job and his back-service staff was also outstanding. They brought a plate of miniature homemade chocolate-chip cookies with the bill (a nice touch!) and I was so full that I couldn't eat them and so asked quietly if the backwaiter would put them in a little bag so that I could take them with - and he disappeared with the plate. We thought he had misunderstood but he returned with a large bag with "Canoe" on the side after a few minutes and instead was a little white box! How nice! (The next morning when I opened this to eat with coffee at the hotel I realized that he had added another four cookies to the original two!) This place knows how to treat their dinner guests - very special in Atlanta.
The convention part of the trip we spent at the Marriott Marquis downtown. Massive - but nice rooms. The fitness center and rooftop pool are especially nice. Kind of too large though.
Thankfully, we spent the last three days at the Interconteninental Buckhead and is was outstanding! I highly recommend the hotel - the lobby is lovely, the service outstanding, the rooms very nice, lovely garden courtyard. We enjoyed a drink in the lobby each evening and listened to a young man play beautiful jazz on the grand piano. A really nice hotel where the staff bends over backwards to please the guests. So pleasant.