The verdict on 3 new Atlanta restaurants: Cuddlefish, Bibi, and Bomb Biscuit Co.

Serious sushi with a cute name, Persian pleasures at Ponce City Market, and some of the best buttermilk biscuits in town

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Cuddlefish
Cuddlefish

Photograph by Martha Williams

Cuddlefish
Given the prevailing winds blowing through Restaurant World these days—casual vibes, counter service, top-quality food available for takeout—it is perhaps surprising that Atlanta is experiencing a boom in a very specific, historically uncasual style of dining. Often translated from Japanese as “I leave it up to you,” omakase typically involves a chef-prescribed, multicourse menu and steep costs: At recently opened Mujo, meals start at $225. But other options are coming online, from Sandy Springs’ NoriFish to this Decatur storefront, which replaces Brush Sushi Izakaya but is run by the same folks, Jason Liang and John Chen—who also own Midtown’s Momonoki and Momo Cafe. With plans to reopen Brush in Buckhead, they’ve installed in its place Cuddlefish, which easily has the most adorable restaurant name around. This is omakase in a lower key, with meals topping out at a $99 “signature plus” option. The “signature” itself ($59) is a fine choice—a gracefully paced dinner that started, on a recent visit, with black-pepper edamame, ended with a grilled-eel hand roll, and in seven intervening courses featured superfresh sushi and delicately built rolls. Reserving a table involves prepaying for the meal via a reservation system that felt a little wonky, and if dessert is available to order separately, we weren’t given the option—of note mostly because dessert is by ChingYao Wang, who crafts stunning pastries at the Midtown spots. But other a la carte items can be added on-site, including excellent cocktails and more outre, but highly rewarding, bites like a tomato-pesto hand roll; next time, I’ll probably just walk in and see what happens. And yes, Cuddlefish also does takeout. Decatur

Bibi
Bibi

Photograph by Martha Williams

Bibi
In 2020 in Inman Park, chef Fares Kargar opened Delbar, serving the sumptuous Persian fare he’d grown up eating in Iran: herby rice dishes, hearty kofta and kabobs, and fragrant entrees like lamb neck with saffron and cinnamon. Previously a server at Rumi’s Kitchen, Kargar was inspired by the conviction that Atlantans could broaden their familiarity with Middle Eastern cuisine, a project he continues at this more casual counter spot inside Ponce City Market. Its menu shares a few things with Delbar—like walnut-studded dill labneh, offered as an appetizer with pillowy barbari flatbread, or served on the same bread as a sandwich with crispy braised lamb, barberries, and onions. The fast-casual menu is mostly sandwiches, kabob and rice plates, and mezze, but what you should absolutely not miss is the pide, a boat-shaped Turkish flatbread. I got the Adana Pide, filled with tender minced lamb and beef, garlicky harissa, and tangy sumac onions; it’s a gorgeous mélange of flavors—good hot or cold, good at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Equally versatile, and equally satisfying: a coffee-date-tahini shake. (Draft cocktails, when I visited, were in the offing.) Bibi, by the way, refers in Farsi to a queen, a family matriarch, or simply a “powerful but kindhearted female leader,” as the menu explains. Devotion to the women in his life has been a current through Kargar’s cooking, present as well at Delbar, and assumes a political valence here, with the menu sporting a hashtag in the wake of recent protests following the death of a young Iranian woman in police custody: #FreeIran. Old Fourth Ward

Bomb Biscuit Co.
Since 2016, Erika Council has been a biscuit maker about town. She’s done biscuit delivery, biscuit pop-ups, biscuit breakfast collabs with the likes of barbecue star Bryan Furman. Her culinary devotion makes sense, given that she’s got a family legacy to uphold: One of her grandmothers was Mildred “Mama Dip” Council, an esteemed North Carolina restaurateur; the other, Geraldine Dortch, was a civil rights activist who sold baked goods to raise money for the cause. After a stint at Irwin Street Market, Council has now taken over the old Field Day space on Highland Avenue—a sunny storefront with a back patio overlooking the Freedom Park Trail, out of whose kitchen she serves . . . well, you guessed it. And they are pretty much the finest version of what a buttermilk biscuit should be: a little crisp around the edges, endlessly soft within, tender but not too crumbly, generously buttery without being greasy. They’re the platform for a menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches including a Glori-fried Chicken Biscuit (buttermilk-fried chicken, honey butter, bread-and-butter pickles), Carolina’s Finest (chicken topped with sausage gravy and bacon), and an ATL-appropriate lemon-pepper chicken number. There’s even a vegan biscuit breakfast sandwich, gluten-free biscuits, and chocolate-chip biscuits for dessert, and if you need more than biscuits—although: what more could you need than biscuits?—hearty breakfast plates and stacks of buttermilk pancakes. Plus, Sunday brunch. Old Fourth Ward

These articles appear in our January and February 2023 issues.

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