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Octopus Bar chef Angus Brown is on his way to Vietnam and Japan. He’ll spend the next four months working in different kitchens and learning new cooking techniques to bring back to Atlanta for his next venture, a full-service restaurant called Octopus. Though Octopus won’t open until summer, at the earliest, Octopus Bar remains in full force late on Monday nights and Thursday through Saturday nights. Nhan Le—Brown’s partner in Octopus Bar, and the owner of East Atlanta’s So Ba, on whose patio Octopus Bar operates—is in charge.
Both Brown and Le reassure me that they will be speaking frequently while Brown’s away, and Brown will remain involved in both their existing and future ventures. However, Le will be changing the Octopus Bar menu a bit to focus on his strengths—namely seafood. There may be sashimi, nigiri, needlefish, and/or periwinkle fish. Grilled black bass and trout are possibilities too, depending on what Le can source locally. He may also add potpie to the menu, and plans to bring back a braised rabbit pasta dish Brown served previously.
In addition, Octopus Bar is hiring a couple of line cooks to help make pastas and other existing menu items. Farmer Hudson Rouse is helping Le source vegetables—something Brown typically does. Rouse is also working in the kitchen, primarily focusing on salads.
“The core menu will still have Angus’s influence—we’ll just focus more on Japanese and Asian,” Le says. “I think what Angus is doing is awesome. It’s all education. The more he sees, he’ll use the knowledge a bit here and there, and we’ll benefit from it.”
Brown plans to return to Atlanta in mid-May and wants to jump right into making Octopus a reality. He and Le have been looking at properties near Memorial Drive, Boulevard, Little Five Points, and even Inman Park and West Midtown. They want space for a raw bar where Le can prepare oysters, stone crabs, clams, and high-end sashimi. They also need room for a yakitori (Japanese charcoal grill), on which Brown can prepare entrees.
“It’ll be like a clean-cut Octopus Bar,” Brown says about Octopus. “Five-star service, no attitude, no pretension.”
The duo has been talking to another (as yet unnamed) local chef who would work the lunch rush, while Brown and Le concentrate their efforts on dinner and late night. As for the atmosphere, Brown’s thinking subway tile and graffiti.
“We’re ready to be a full-time restaurant,” Brown says. “We’re hungry for it.”