Better by restaurant design

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ATL FOOD CHATTER: MAY 4, 2009

After dining at BLT Steak, Craft, and the newly opened Livingston, I was impressed not only with their cuisine but with the work of architects and designers who created their respective spaces. These companies have brought a fresh, clean and modern esthetic to Atlanta dining scene—one that promises to challenge local design firms to raise the bar.

Firms such as New York’s Bentel & Bentel (Craft) and San Francisco’s The Puccini Group (Livingston) and CCS (BLT Steak), with offices in both New York and San Francisco, are in great demand around the country and are highly selective about the projects to which they commit. AvroKO, the New York based designers of hotspots like Public and Park Avenue, is rumored to have been contracted by a major Atlanta restaurant group to design a signature project in a spectacular location.

At the opening party for Livingston, I asked Ed Seiber—whose local firm Seiber Designs has designed many Atlanta restaurants, including Restaurant Eugene—how he felt about the influx of out-of-town talent and its effect on his practice. He welcomed it, saying, “It will make all of us tighten up our game.”

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead
. Agnes and Muriel’s, open in the new location for less than 6 months, has closed

Doraville. Nak Dong Gang, the Korean spot that specialized in duck, has closed after less than 6 months in business.

Downtown
. As we reported last week, Concentrics is joining the pizza frenzy with a joint called Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria, featuring Georgia’s first coal fired pizza oven. It is slated to open late spring, next to Stats at 300 Marietta Street. Longtime Concentrics chef (and New York native) Nick Oltarsh will lead the kitchen.

BLT Steak’s John Mayfield won first place at the Super Regional Level finals of the Chaine des Rotisseurs young sommeliers competition last month. This month he will compete in the national finals in California.

The owners of Castleberry Hill favorite No Mas Cantina have recently opened Adios Cafe, a Mexican chocolate and espresso bar attached to the restaurant.

Midtown. Noon, a gourmet sandwich shop helmed by former Bacchanalia sous chef Katie Birmingham, has opened at 1080 Peachtree Street with an ai3 designed interior. The entrance is on Crescent Avenue, Suite 6.

WaterHaven, a contemporary American bistro, is scheduled to open May 12, at Technology Square in the former Globe space. Chris Lee, previously with The Real Chow-Baby and Hi Life Kitchen & Cocktails, will be executive chef. 

Lexington Chocolatier has closed.

Oakhurst. McGowan’s Pub, sibling to the next-door Palate Cafe and Wine Bar, will open this summer in Oakhurst Village, offering affordable fare and ample beer selections.

Roswell. Look for a third location of L’Thai West to open in the former Brickhouse Pizza location this summer.

Westside. There is an “Opening Soon” sign for Zen Asian Bistro in the Ten Ten Apartment building on Northside Drive.

Tiny Bistro
, serving to-go sandwiches and entrees, is slated to open at 1039 Marietta Street this month.

Also: The eleventh annual Flavors of Atlanta, the fundraiser for the American Liver Foundation that featured 23 of Atlanta’s top chefs, was held April 22, and it was a testament to the fact that not is our dining scene great, it does great things as well. Kudos to all of the folks who volunteered their time and talents to create a spectacular event for such a worthy cause.

Question of the Week:
What major Atlanta food event is rumored to be changing venues for next year’s event?

The answer to last week’s QOTW—What former Atlanta Chef has found a new home on South Georgia’s Cumberland Island?—is Tony Seichrist. The former Holeman & Finch chef is now at the Greyfield Inn.

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