Checking in on Westside’s Bocado

ATL Food Chatter: February 15, 2011
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Business, at last, appears to be looking up for Atlanta restaurants. Last week, the Atlanta Business Chronicle ran a story quoting statistics from NetFinancials, Inc. an Atlanta-based CPA firm that recently surveyed seventy-one metro area restaurants. It revealed that 69 percent of those businesses experienced sales gains in December 2010 when compared to December 2009—and 35 percent experienced double-digit sales gains over the same time period.

Brian Lewis, owner of the Westside’s Bocado, and his executive chef, Todd Ginsberg, are feeling the upswing. Ginsberg says the restaurant, open since October 2009, has seen an increase in traffic over the last few months, including “more AmEx Black cards that I’ve ever seen in my life.” Lewis notes that customer feedback and the kind of experience that only comes with time have shaped the menu and attracted customers that include Midtown and Buckhead residents as well as sports fans who stop in for a pre-game meal before heading Downtown.

Lunch has been consistent since the restaurant’s opening, but Ginsberg says dinner is where business has really picked up. They’ve seen growth with a diverse clientele—couples out for a weeknight meal but also large dinners in the private dining room that seats up to thirty people. While the menu once focused on small plates and entrees priced in the teens, says Ginsberg, “We want to guests in a more celebratory mood to be accommodated as well.” That means the addition of a couple entrees in the teens, such as diver scallops with pureed Jerusalem artichoke, roasted mushrooms, lobster jus, and organic guanciale (cured pork jowl, a hot charcuterie item). Lewis has added some higher-end wines to the tightly curated list as well.

The upswing has also led to a luxurious special that’s catching on as Bocado’s next cult favorite (following in the tradition of their double-stacked burger): a lobster roll that’s only offered on Saturday nights. It sells out early and fast.

(Photo of Todd Ginsberg. Bill Addison provided additional reporting.)

Congrats to Richard Blais and his wife Jazmin, as they celebrate the birth of their second daughter, Embry Lotus Blais!

YEAH! Burger will host a week-long fundraiser for Georgia Organics, supporting the non-profit’s efforts to bring healthier foods to school children. Diners at both its Westside and Virginia-Highland locations will be encouraged to donate $1 toward the farm-to-school initiative from now until February 20.

Alpharetta. The blog Roots in Alpharetta reports that Tifosi Gastropub has opened at 103 S. Main Street.

Brookhaven. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that Chicago-based fast-casual Asian chain Stir Crazy is opening its first Georgia store in the Town Brookhaven development this summer.

Buckhead. While this isn’t confirmed, we’ve heard from reliable sources that the long-awaited Pano’s deal with the St. Regis is officially off. (We also heard that the Buckhead Life Group also considered the space at the Mansion on Peachtree recently vacated by Craft, but the company passed on it.) We’re also hearing that the upscale Il Mulino chain, which closed its Downtown location suddenly a couple months back, may be negotiating a deal with the St. Regis.

Food & Wine Magazine profiled H&F Bottle Shop on its website with a rave review (and predicted a February 21st opening date).
Tomorrow’s News Today reported Fatburger has closed.

. Gene Lee on the AJC’s Food and More blog reports that Fil-Am Star Cafe and Bakery, featuring Filipino cuisine, has opened at 5150 Buford Highway.

Downtown. Cake Hag has moved out of its space on Mitchell Street. More news of where it will relocate later this week.

Grant Park. Creative Loafing is reporting that Grant Park is getting a Sunday farmer’s market that will debut in May and run through November, although a location has not been finalized. Follow its Facebook page for details.

Inman Park
. Creative Loafing also reports that Victory Sandwich Bar has now opened on Elizabeth Street.

Johns Creek. Flippin’ Out Burger has closed.
Question of the Week: What national chain may test market its newest seafood concept in Metro Atlanta?

P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What newly opened barbecue spot features North Carolina’s beloved beverage Cheerwine on its menu?—is Burnt Fork BBQ