Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Kickoff at The Optimist

Ford Fry's new restaurant The Optimist held its first service: Atlanta Food & Wine 2012
Ford Fry on JCT Kitchen, Atlanta Food & Wine, and New Restaurants
Ford Fry introduces the "Oceans 6" to kick off the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.
Arthur Bovino

Ford Fry introduces the "Oceans 6" to kick off the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.

Atlanta Food & Wine 2012 kicked off in high style at chef Ford Fry's new restaurant The Optimist, scheduled to open May 21 or 22. The menu was called Oceans 6. Why? "Because there were six chefs, and they were all really cute, you know, like Clooney and Pitt in Ocean's Eleven," explained festival co-founder Dominique Love. Conventional wisdom backs her up, but menu descriptions and the food on the plates was attractive enough. The seven-course meal kicked off with oysters and a "Mother of Pearl cocktail" (Death's Door Gin, Fee Brothers Celery Bitters, and Fever Tree Tonic Water) dressed with beautiful fennel frond and celery leaf, in a celery salt rimmed glass.

The space? According to chef Fry, it was most recently an office, but before that it was a ham business or butcher. A huge space with high, high ceilings, massive windows with natural wood installations between them, tons of natural light, and an open kitchen. Fry has done the space right. There's so much open space and an oyster bar up front. (Learn more about Ford Fry's new restaurant The Optimist in this video with the chef).

The dinner involved dishes from Ford Fry, Mike Lata (FIG), Norman Van Aken and Justin Van Aken (TUYO), Dean Max and Jeremy Ford (3030 Ocean), Brandon McGlamery (Prato), and Bryan Caswell (Reef). Among the offerings were wood roasted Jonah crab, rudderfish crudo, a clam BLT, sea urchin pasta with duck sausage, and mulberry fried pies. Admit it, you're jealous. That's understandable.

But the folks you should be jealous of though are Atlantans soon to be able to sample the new menu at The Optimist. She-crab soup, smoked fish chowder, angels on horseback, peel-and-eat shrimp, duck fat poached swordfish with pickled sweet peppers, and oyster backs? Now that's a landlocked seafood restaurant that knows what it's doing.

Complete coverage of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2012