Courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden
James Beard Award winner Linton Hopkins—the chef and founder of Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch, and the Peachtree Road Farmers Market—has four new projects in the works. We spoke with Hopkins to get the breakdown.
The Café at Linton’s in the Garden
First, he’ll be taking over operations at the Atlanta Botanical Garden Café. A full partner, not a vendor, he’s calling the space the Café at Linton’s in the Garden, and plans to begin operations November 15.
“The idea is simple: to have the level of food that the Botanical Garden should have–the highest level of cuisine and hospitality,” Hopkins says. “So often when you go to a museum or a symphony or gardens, the quality of the food doesn’t match the quality of everything else there. We want to raise that expectation.”
Menu items will be local, pulling from the garden whenever possible. “Botanical gardens are all about the curation of plants and vegetables the same way building a farmers market is a curation of what’s available from local farmers and artisans,” Hopkins says.
Items may include shaved crudité salad with local root vegetable pesto from Hope’s Gardens, chicken salad on a fresh croissant with green salad, winter tomato soup with black olive croutons, cold buttermilk soups with corn bread, and warm madeleines with powdered sugar. Breakfast may include Atlanta Fresh yogurt, local honey, and H&F granola.
Hopkins plans to get rid of the disposable silverware and have staff members bring beverages the table, rather than force patrons to wait in line for a drink.
Full-service restaurant at the Botanical Garden
Justin Van Aken, son of Florida chef Norman Van Aken, will lead the kitchen both of the Café and a similarly themed, adjacent, full-service restaurant that Hopkins hopes to open in time for the 2015 holidays.
Hopkins was inspired by Danny Meyer’s the Modern at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and wants to bring a similar elegance to the restaurant at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. He even mentions the possibility of a high tea and a vegetarian tasting menu.
Design firm Perkins + Will is creating the space, which will be full of glass and steel and complete with a fireplace and rooftop garden. The restaurant—which will require paid Botanical Garden admission—will serve small bites like pickled shrimp tartar and cheese straws, and perhaps a butter lettuce salad with grilled shrimp and buttermilk dressing. It will do catering, host special events such as wine dinners and farmer dinners, and offer regular table service at least a couple of days a week—to start.
In spring 2015, Hopkins will open H&F Burger in Ponce City Market. Based on Holeman & Finch’s popular cheeseburger, H&F Burger will serve lunch and dinner in a 1,400-square-foot space. Offerings will include a veggie burger, hand-cut French fries, possibly duck-fat fries, a hot dog, and High Road Craft ice cream churned daily for malts and shakes.
“The secret is [H&F Burger] is built around this wonderful salad I’m designing,” Hopkins says. “Of course you’ll be able to get our burger, but I want people to be able to say ‘I go there for the salad.’ ”
The salad will have local lettuce, shaved root vegetables and croutons, cheese, spiced pecans, and Georgia buttermilk and olive oil.
As for the burgers, the meat will be ground in house and served on fresh bread from the company’s bakery. Want a cola with that? Sodas will be made the old-fashioned way with syrup. Beer and wine will be available as well.
The Bread Box
Also in Ponce City Market, the Bread Box will serve sandwiches and fresh baked bread out of a 400-square-foot space. There will be a Cuban sandwich, grilled cheese, a BLT, and perhaps a meatball sub with mozzarella. Everything will be grab-and-go, including fresh croissants, pastries, cookies, biscotti, and the signature two-pound loaf made from ground North Carolina flour.