Atlanta’s artistic American cuisine
There really isn’t a center to Buckhead, Atlanta’s most well-heeled neighborhood, but if there were a ceremonial one, The St. Regis Atlanta would make a qualified candidate. The grand structure just off Peachtree Road holds its head in such a royal manner that neighboring buildings dwarf it — even if they’re taller. Along similar lines, Atlas Buckhead isn’t the only dining option in the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel; somehow though, the ambience and addictive dishes make it feel as if it’s the center of the culinary world.
Two sets of steps on both sides of the hotel’s main lobby are adorned in sparkling chandeliers, polished wood flooring and stark white columns, stirring an immediate sense of splendor. When you head up and angle to your left, you’ll walk right into Atlas, a seasonal American eatery that opened its doors in January 2015.
The space feels like a gentleman’s club that has long given up its stuffy ways. Just across from the host station, you’ll spy a few tables in a sort of library lounge setting. This is your introduction to The Tavern at Atlas, a concept unveiled at the restaurant in early 2017. Consider this section as Atlas’ more easygoing side, where you can nibble on sliders, sip on gin martinis and listen to live music every Wednesday and Friday night.
Proceed a bit farther into the restaurant and you’ll run into a stylish bar that almost glows from the polished countertops and moody lights behind the bottles. Walk past the glass case of vintage liquors (more on it later) and things open up into a dining room full of brown leather chairs, booths covered in rich green fabrics and a museum-worthy collection of art from names like Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.
Not to be outdone by the Henri Matisse piece hanging on the wall, chef de cuisine Christopher Grossman (formerly of The French Laundry and Buckhead institution Aria) approaches each dish with the discerning eye of a sculptor. He and his team want to wow without weighing you down.
So, instead of the black angus filet being ruined with too many accoutrements, it only needs crème fraîche potato puree and charred spring onions to do the talking. The same goes for the Atlas burger, a dry-aged and wagyu treat that says it all simply and splendidly with aged cheese and Vidalia onions. But save some room: The most over-the-top moment at dinner might be the times when the server tempts your table with three or four varieties of fresh bread.
As you’re nibbling, you can see the culinary team in motion in your peripheral through the open kitchen. (Tip: If you can score a table somewhere between said kitchen and the sometimes-animated bar, that’s your sweet spot.)
Should you need a closer look at all the excitement around the stove, stroll on over. The culinary crew will be so busy chopping and sautéing that it may not even notice you gawking.
The aforementioned case of aged liquor is impressive — Macallan, various cognacs in blown-glass bottles, it’s all here. But there’s a great chance that you’ll be dining on a regular Tuesday, not celebrating a special occasion. For those instances, the bar at the Atlanta restaurant offers plenty of other choices as well. Vino lovers will appreciate a wine list with pours from as close as New York and as distant as Portugal.
Still, it’s with the cocktails that the art-appreciating establishment truly shows off its creative side. You’ll find your traditional concoctions, sure, but allow the waiter to tell you about a yet-unnamed drink made with port, ginger beer and housemade bitters. We called the utterly smooth work of art “The Port of Peachtree.” After a few sips, you might come up with your own name for the mixed masterpiece.