Your arrival at Astor Court, located in The St. Regis Atlanta, is a grand experience in itself. The cobblestone driveway with statuesque fountains provides a beautiful welcome to usher you inside a timelessly elegant atmosphere with splashes of modern décor. There's even a Gone with the Wind-esque dual staircase that begs visitors to descend and strike a pose. Even so, the atmosphere remains comfortably inviting, with service (including the valet attendants and the doorman greeters) worthy of the hotel's Five Diamond appointment.
While the entire staff at Astor Court is well trained, the wine butler Jennifer Sollinger stands out. Although her title falls short of sommelier, her skill set is on par with the masters when it comes to pairing the perfect wines (by the glass or bottle) with every sumptuous course.
To help relax with a cocktail before your meal, consider indulging in The Atlantan. This revised take on the Manhattan is made using Astor Court's very own barrel of fourth-batch Woodford Reserve, combined with peach whiskey, sweet vermouth, and lemon bitters to further enhance the warmth and elegance of the bourbon.
First Course: A signature favorite on the menu is scallops and pork belly, seared and served with umami sabayon and micro sorrel. Even if you have to plead, make sure to try the chef's foie gras. After he sears it to perfection, it is then sweetened with raspberries and balances with a white balsamic gastrique. While custom may suggest a glass of sauterne wine, Sollinger's suggestion of house champagne (Piper Heidsieck Monopole "Blue Top") elevated the dish to a new level of sublimity.
Second Course: In a further demonstration of the chef's kitchen prowess was a luscious vichyssoise laden with a clump of lobster, fingerling potato salad, and a salt and vinegar chip. While one would typically think to pair a spicier dish with a riesling, you may wish to throw caution to the wind and follow Sollinger's suggestion to start dry and end semi-sweet with her choice of Robertson "Almond Grove" Late Harvest Riesling, from South Africa. The moment the flavors collide on the palate is when you'll notice a neutralizing of the sweetness of the lobster, the earthiness of the potato, the saltiness of the caviar, and the creaminess of the vichyssoise all coalescing. C’est magnifique!
Third Course: The chef was very generous with black truffles and white truffle oil in the celery root soup, which Sollinger paired with Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay "Russian River Ranches." The acidity of the chardonnay with the creaminess of the fish-based soup is best described as an exquisite combination!
Fourth Course: From the menu, a marinated red and gold beets salad of mâche, oranges, goat cheese, and walnuts emphasizes layers of flavors with a hint of salt to accent the sweetness of the beets and the acidity of the citrus fruits tossed with a sherry vinaigrette. Sollinger's suggestion of the same chardonnay as above added the perfect balance.
Fifth Course: Whether you're a huge fan of oysters or not, try the clean Kusshi Oysters paired with Veuve Clicquot Brut. The dryness of the champagne makes tasting the oysters for the first time all the more pleasurable.
Sixth Course: The chef called it a "duet of beef": a boneless shortrib with prime filet mignon with a side of carrot, turnip, and herb bouquet. Served rare, the filet was semi-charred on the outside and tender on the inside. The more thoroughly cooked shortrib was tender as well. However, without the accompanying reduction, the flavor probably would have been lost — there's just something about ribs that makes them that much better if eaten in a hole in the wall named "Big Momma's" or "Fat Daddy." Nevertheless, the glass of Chateau Ste. Michelle “Indian Wells” Cabernet Sauvignon made it work.
Seventh Course: The duo chocolate cream is the perfect ending to a dreamy meal at Astor Court. Francophile's will appreciate the almond macaron and be inspired by thoughts Champs Élysées. Eat that first and then savor the delight of chocolate and hazelnut feuilletine, coupled with a lovely glass of Taylor Fladgate 10 Years Tawny Porto.
Whether executive chef Joseph Trevino or executive sous chef Brian McLaughlin is behind the stove, a meal at Astor Court is definitely a meal for the true food lover. Just make sure Sollinger is there the day you visit!