Consider the curse on the airy restaurant space at the corner of Juniper and Eighth streets—which previously housed two failed Riccardo Ullio efforts, Cuerno and Lupe—officially lifted. Darren Carr, who co-owns Top Flr and the Sound Table, and Patrick La Bouff, his partner in the supper club Dinner Party Atlanta, created the kind of swank, low-key hangout this strip of Midtown has always needed. I love to decamp to the handsome bar presided over by Eric Simpkins, one of the city’s most gifted bartenders. Since March, when the Lawrence opened, Simpkins’s cocktails have grown increasingly complex: His brooding Drigg’s Fizz (rye whiskey, Cynar, Peychaud’s bitters, and Brooklyn brown ale) mirrors winter’s dark days. On weekday nights, when the restaurant is calmer, point to an intriguing artisanal spirit on the shelf and Simpkins will make you a cocktail that flatters its flavors.
The food has improved greatly since I first reviewed the restaurant six months ago. Executive chef Shane Devereux now hones his imagination into dishes that may read as eccentric on the menu but make more sense on the plate. Start with a bite like a petite poached Seckel pear, its subtle taste paired astutely with ultracreamy Burrata mozzarella. In an homage to steakhouses, a marbled round of spinalis (ribeye cap) comes with fried shallots, made in the shape of miniature onion rings. For dessert? Another cocktail, please. 905 Juniper Street, 404-961-7177, thelawrenceatlanta.com