In the midst of Atlanta's decimated fine-dining terrain, Bacchanalia, sturdy in its converted Westside meatpacking plant, rules as monarch. Chefs-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison safeguarded its survival by connecting to a broader audience than did lofty, defunct sovereigns like Seeger's and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. Locals embrace the restaurant as Atlanta's premier special-occasion destination, but it also acts as a gracious ambassador for the city. The five-course prix fixe menu—a celebration of the seasonal and a local reinterpretation of the American culinary revolution ignited in California—makes a knockout first impression. Go classic with foie gras au torchon styled with peach, honey, and brioche (paired with a Sauternes, natch), then move into gutsier territory with a salad such as Flat Creek Lodge's nutty Georgia Red cheese tangled among pole beans, hazelnuts, flecks of country ham, and pickled shallots.
Best of Atlanta 2013
How does the Westside's crown jewel remain at the top year after year? Extraordinary hospitality, for starters. Service is balletic, yet the staff never comes off as too starchy or aloof. And no restaurant in town delivers fine-dining dazzle like Bacchanalia. In 2011, chef-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison and their executive chef David “Andy” Carson decided to switch the prix fixe format from four courses to five. Doing so added a third savory dish before a cheese plate and dessert, spurring the kitchen to more intricate creations. One recent highlight: a slice of rosy, steaky magret duck hat sidled up to a grain pilaf shot through with duck confit. Chestnut puree and artful dribbles of sour cherry just added depth and contrast. Like the whole meal, it was heady without being fussy. Bonus points for the expanded, meticulous wine list, and, as always the glorious cheese cart.