Despite the many manmade lakes surrounding Atlanta, Georgia, there are people like Mona K. Wills, who prefer fish caught fresh from the sea. The challenge, however, can be the distance between Atlanta and the sea. Nevertheless, being the foodie town it has become, Atlanta's chefs are going the distance to take delivery (in many cases) by air and/or lakes nearby daily. Here’s a look at a few great options in this ongoing series.
In the former location of one of Houston’s jazz and seafood favorites, Sambuca, it's been approximately two years since Ocean Prime took occupancy in Buckhead. With pretty much the same facade, yet a far more elegant interior, this modern American steakhouse now boasts an open kitchen and glass wine storage area for all to see. Cocktails not to be missed include the Black Orchid. This $12 concoction of Belvedere Raspberry and St Germain, with hand squeezed lemon and a splash of white cranberry juice produces a clean, not too sweet and very refreshing cocktail.
To get the meal started, consider the $16 Surf N Turf appetizer as a "do not pass go before eating" classic. Served on a bed of velvety smooth mashed potatoes resting in a puddle of a rich, luscious brown gravy comes a de-boned short rib and two huge and beautifully seared scallops. The scallops are caramelized to perfection and the short rib is use-your-fork-only tender and oh so savory on the palate. Kudos to the chef for the absence of the over salting for flavor enhancement.
Fish entrees to never be forgotten include Blackened Snapper ($33), served with wilted spinach and jalapeno corn tartar. The team of Executive Chef Mitchell Brumels has mastered all efforts to beautifully blacken the snapper while retaining the natural moisture inside, along with the addition of a clam juice based champagne buerre blanc puddled beneath. It is then topped with a rich, creamy corn that feels sweet to the palate, yet sharpened by the flavor of dill, which further lifts the fish flavor. The accompanying wilted spinach with red onion slithers and tossed in a vinaigrette also serves to compliment the fish. This is a well thought out and very creative dish.
Also quite creative is the $39 Yellowfin Tuna. The black truffle au jus is reason enough to order this treat. Heavy laden with black truffle pieces, English peas, and fava beans amidst small marbled potatoes-- there is just one word for this perfectly seared on the outside, moist on the inside tuna dish: harmony!
For a sweet ending to it all, try the very decadent, 10-layer carrot cake with accompanying pineapple sauce.
And if you’re lucky enough to be served by a gentleman named Daemon, you’ll be assured of excellence in the area of service.
ONE midtown kitchen
Holding it down for nine years now, this former warehouse in the midtown section of the city, sitting on the edge of Piedmont Park in a converted warehouse, remains a tucked away hot spot for Atlanta's locals.
Arrive early if you don’t have a reservation because by 8pm on a Friday, this place is hoping!
After the warmth of the modern ambiance touches your soul, you are then blown away by the crunchy, crusty sour dough bread served with a carrot butter puree that puts plain ole butter to shame.
On the cocktail list right now is The big Easy. This $9 combination of Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager, 360 Meyer Lemon Vodka, watermelon juice and fresh basil reeks of summer for the grown and sexy.
From there, kick off the summer celebration with a $9 Watermelon Salad of fresh feta cheese, mint and a yellow tomato vinaigrette, all of which flows as if it were magic. Add to that an order of Parmesan Herb Fries ($5) and together with the cocktail, you’d have a great summer-light meal.
Should you choose to continue, at $27, a Seared Scallops entrée will take you to France at Piedmont Park. Perfectly bronzed to bring out the natural sweetness, the scallops are well sized and tender. With a ratatouille of fresh veggies and hints of lemon in a saffrom fish sauce, this is the dish that will cause you to reminisce of memoirs from summer on the Mediterranean Sea.
As an option, the Wood Roasted Salmon ($24) is served with a crispy skin top, while beautifully moist and flaky inside—when ordered at the chef’s recommended temperature. Chef Nick’s team garnished the salmon with broccolini, asparagus and couscous, in a puddle of a roasted tomato vinaigrette. The richness of the smoky flavor will cause you to savor every bite, while trying to save some for a midnight snack at home.
Fuego Mundo South American Woodfire Grill
On the edge of Atlanta, as in right along the 285 perimeter that circumferences the city, is Fuego Mundo.
As if the thought of a South American influenced menu consisting of gluten free, dairy free and certified kosher dishes is not reason enough for celebration, many of the items served use organic products and are vegan friendly. Hormone free chicken, grass fed beef and fish caught wild speaks to the meat they serve. And speaking of fish, the signature salmon here is to live for!
At $21, the Gourmet Teriyaki Salmon is an eight ounce piece of wild salmon from the grill that’s been enhanced by a cranberry teriyaki glaze. The luscious combination of the woodfire smoky flavor is balanced out by the sweetness of teriyaki sauce creating an insatiably delicious flavor that is perfectly balanced between salt and sweet.
All entrees are served with a choice of mindful sides ranging from The Latin (Spanish rice, blackbeans and sweet plantains), Stir Fry Veggies (broccoli and onions over a bed of rice or quinoa), Farm Fresh (grilled bok choy and roasted red potatoes), The Health Nut (organic quinoa, black beans and baked plantains), Field Greens Salad (four field greens, roasted red peppers, onions and carrots) or The American (simply French fries).
Even on the appetizer menu, knowing that an order of Fuego Wings (served with fries or plantain chips), comes from hormone free chicken makes finger food so well seasoned, all the better to you and for you. And yes, they have French fried yucca too, served with a garlic aioli for dipping.
But what sets Fuego Mundo apart from many other restaurants is the home-like feeling. The way your food arrives, the way it tastes and the comforting feelings it inspires within can be challenging to explain, yet heavenly to experience.