Ray’s on the River
There’s many a fine restaurant in Atlanta to choose, but few can compare with the idyllic location of Ray’s on the River. The long-standing seafood and steak Atlanta institution (and classic brunch destination) lies yards away from the woods-lined Chattahoochee River, making for an all-season upscale choice for hungry Atlantans.
While it's easy to turn one's nose up at a mini restaurant chain — their portfolio includes downtown's Ray's in the City, nearby Tex-Mex joint Rio Bravo, and Alpharetta's Ray's at Killer Creek — one mustn’t overlook their smarter-than-most wine collection (which garnered an Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2015 title) and Kevin Rathbun alum Brian Goddard steering the ship as chef de cuisine. And this is no cheap and casual joint — nearly every dinner entrée is $30 and upwards and the place exudes a steakhouse-style ambience, making the tranquil riverside experience even more memorable.
If Ray’s extensive menu is too intimidating, follow the Number One rule: consult your server. The server on my recent visit was four-for-four on his recommended appetizers and entrees, allaying my trepidation of hit-and-miss dishes for a truly delicious meal from start to finish.
Jumbo lump crab cake: all crab, all succulent with a mild creole beurre blanc, and comes with a roasted corn relish that lends the fabulously rich dish a kick of texture.
Crispy Point Judith calamari: the tender calamari fished from Point Judith, RI is considered the Rolls-Royce of squid, and Ray’s on River’s version cooked with piquant sweet peppers might be some of the best you’ll try in Atlanta.
Salmon Oscar: generous, tender slab of salmon glazed with béarnaise and topped with fresh jumbo lump crab meat and grilled asparagus, with a side of smoothly whipped potatoes.
Herb grilled lamb chop: a succulent twin of tomahawk-style chops cooked in port wine reduction with chewy, buttered faro and roasted asparagus…with sautéed cherries on top. The lamb chops here are a knockout.