The early word on Eli Kirshtein’s brasserie

The Luminary will open spring 2014 in the Krog Street Market
Chef Eli Kirshtein

By Austen Risolvato

Former Top Chef contestant Eli Kirshtein is bringing bistro fare to Inman Park this spring with the opening of the Luminary, an American brasserie with regional influences. The 3,400-square-foot restaurant in the forthcoming Krog Street Market will feature a 400-square-foot patio, plus a large raw bar. Though Kirshtein—formerly executive chef at Eno and a protégé of both Richard Blais and Kevin Rathbun—is still working out many of the details, he took the time to share his plans.

Tell us about the food.
We’re still in some development phases. Until we’re positive it’s happening, I like to keep things kind of close to chest, but it’ll be our interpretation of brasseries around the world. It’s inspired by those in Paris and Montreal and New Orleans. It’ll have a large raw bar that’s a big showpiece of the space with beautiful seafood.

We want to offer a restaurant that’s comfortable and serves delicious food. We’re not trying to be overly challenging in what we’re doing.

Why’s it called the Luminary?
It’s named after the first newspaper ever in Atlanta. I have a deep, deep passion for this city. I was born and raised here and my family is here. We wanted to find something related to the city. We like the railroad references but there are a few restaurants here that have already gone down that road.

Why did you choose the Krog Street Market over Ponce City Market and all of the other locations in Atlanta?
We wanted to be in an intown neighborhood that we could be a part of. I’ve always been inspired by Cabbagetown, the cotton mills, Oakland Cemetery, and Inman Park. [The Krog Street Market] felt right for us to put our roots in the ground. It’s a really interesting concept. Ponce will be really massive. We didn’t want to get lost in the mix.

What’s the bar scene going to be like at the Luminary?
We’re going to have a craft cocktail program and all that. We’re looking for barkeeps right now. It’ll be relatively beer focused—not like the Porter or anything like that but we’ll have a handful of hand-selected items on draft and in bottles. The beer will be from all over—we want cool and esoteric. People really enjoy good beer here.

And wine?
Wine is still being discussed extensively.

American brasseries, like F.A.B., haven’t always done well in Atlanta. How will you distinguish the Luminary from those?
The only real true brasserie that’s ever been here is Au Pied de Cochon. I don’t think F.A.B. and F&B were ever brasseries. Plus they’re in difficult locations.

For brasseries, we think neighborhood restaurants—not large restaurants in the front of hotels. We’re focusing more on the neighborhood and the community.

People get scared when menus are written entirely in French, like at Au Pied de Cochon. While the Luminary is a brasserie, it’s still an American restaurant. We’ll have dishes and ingredients inspired by the region and the local offerings.

How have your experiences working under Blais and Rathbun influenced your cooking for the Luminary?
This is an amalgamation of my travels and all the places and people l’ve cooked with and for. It’s not just trying to harp on a specific time in my life.