The verdict on 3 new Atlanta restaurants: Oreatha’s at the Point, Slabtown Public House, and NoriFish

A maternal menu from Deborah VanTrece, bar snacks on the BeltLine, and omakase in Sandy Springs

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Oreatha’s at the Point
Oreatha’s at the Point

Photograph by Martha Williams

Oreatha’s at the Point
In the food world, concept is a word so capacious it’s basically lost all meaning: Restaurateurs talk about opening a seafood concept, a Thai concept, or a doughnut concept when what they mean is that they are opening—respectively—a seafood restaurant, a Thai restaurant, or a doughnut counter. Here, though, an honest-to-god concept: Before she was a chef, Deborah VanTrece was a flight attendant, and Oreatha’s—her second restaurant, after the popular Blandtown soul-food spot Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours—focuses on far-flung dishes prepared by mothers around the globe, reflecting what VanTrece picked up during her travels. Under executive chef Christiane “Lucke” Bell, the menu is literally all over the place, bouncing between vegetable tempura (pictured), souvlaki chicken kebabs, cioppino, steak frites, and German-style lamb shank over sweet potato spaetzle, as well as an adaptation of a recipe from VanTrece’s own mother: super-rich smoked-duck pot pie, a soupy concoction served under a big biscuit. This is, by and large, food that may make you want to undo a pants button or two. Fried catfish prepared in the style of the Thai fish cakes tod mun pla, for instance, is served over grits cooked in coconut milk, a tasty idea but not one you can really eat too much of. Plus, you’ll want to save room for dessert, off a menu by pastry chef Lauren Washington that includes dishes like red velvet creme brulee and chocolate croissant bread pudding. The first of two—er—concepts that VanTrece is launching this year in Cascade Heights, Oreatha’s boasts a casually elegant little dining room and cheerful patio: a sweet spot to grab dinner in a neighborhood that could use some more of them. 2287 Cascade Road, Cascade Heights

Slabtown Public House
Heaven help me: Not long ago, on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon along the Eastside BeltLine, I looked at a cocktail menu replete with options in the $10 to $13 range and found myself thinking: Hey, not too bad. That’s a reflection on the hair-raising prices increasingly common on menus around town (cocktails at Oreatha’s go for $16), but also on the slightly low-key register Kevin Gillespie is exploring at Slabtown, the successor to Cold Beer, his previous restaurant in this handsome bilevel space. The menu offers a relatively tight selection of shareable apps, sandwiches, and a couple larger plates, and it’s all good drinking food: Cubanos and blackened-catfish po’boys, towering fried-chicken sandwiches, pimento deviled eggs with smoked bacon and pickled green tomatoes. A sheet tray full of nachos felt like it was trying so hard not to be a greasy cliche that it tasted, if anything, a little too restrained: It could’ve used more salt, more spice, more salsa, more pizzazz generally. But an entree of juicy jerk catfish was wonderful, made more so by fresh veggie relish and a nicely acidic curry crema—a combo so lively I took to scooping it up with the chips from that tray of nachos. The cocktail list includes a lot of the kinds of summery drinks that befit Slabtown’s two patios, a terrace near ground level and a rooftop bar: lots of fruits and vegetables here (as in a frozen avocado margarita), but well-balanced and not too sweet. 670 DeKalb Avenue, Old Fourth Ward

NoriFish
If you are new to omakase—the Japanese tasting-menu feast, often quite elaborate and quite expensive, in which the diner yields to the discretion of the chef—this new Sandy Springs sushi restaurant offers a kind of entry-level experience. Three separate menus are available, from “petite” ($60) to “premium” ($140); all the food comes in two courses (plus dessert), rather than an hourslong succession of bites; and everything is available a la carte if you just want to dip a toe in—plus, the servers and the small hive of sushi chefs behind the bar, slicing and tweezing and torching, are happy to answer questions. I tried the petite option and found it to be both plenty and, more or less, unimpeachable: Executive chef Sean Park (who also owns Okiboru Tsukemen & Ramen) incorporates some heterodox ingredients—lime zest and truffle salt over bluefin tuna, serrano chili and blood orange on yellowtail—but they never obscure the clarion flavors of the fish, only complement them in the subtlest ways. (Flown in twice weekly from Japan, this is fish you don’t want to mess with overmuch.) Park’s sushi is the centerpiece, but there are also oysters; sumptuous toasts topped with tuna, truffle aioli, Pecorino Romano, and a quail egg; and ceviche and other plates for sharing. Drinks (e.g., a cucumber-mint-yuzu spritz) and dessert (a few scoops of sorbet) both feel like afterthoughts, which of course they are—you’re here for the fish. 1115 Springwood Connector, Sandy Springs

Editor’s note: Since we went to press, Oreatha’s has added a new pastry chef; we’ve updated this write-up to reflect that and to reflect that Oreatha’s is the first of two (not three, as previously stated) restaurants VanTrece is opening in Cascade Heights.

This article appears in our August 2022 issue.

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