It’s telling that a recent 11-course meal at Georgia Boy began with what looked like a plastic-wrapped piece of hard candy inexplicably crafted out of grapefruit, pine, and Tropicália IPA and meant to be eaten, “cellophane wrapper” and all, in one bite. More than two hours later, after consuming a snow globe (globe and all), a Fish-fil-a (a pescatarian riff on the classic chicken sandwich, with caviar added for good measure), and what appeared to be chocolate cake batter clinging to a beater that you’re instructed to lick, my dining companion summed up the meal thusly: “I feel like I just ate a bunch of junk food.”
Taken to the extreme and without offering a sufficient pause between doses, whimsy can be dangerous; too much can result in blurred vision or exhaustion. Chef Joey Ward, who also helms Southern Belle (reviewed here), is clearly brilliant. His talent was evident at Gunshow, remains clear at Southern Belle, and makes regular appearances at Georgia Boy. The faux oysters and mock caviar, for instance, are clever as hell. But as a whole, a meal at Georgia Boy feels like too much. And so might the bill. Dinner for two, with wine pairings for one of us and two glasses of $12 wine for the other, came to a staggering $450 after tax and tip. You’ll spend less on a more nourishing and equally luxe meal at Bacchanalia, Staplehouse, or Lazy Betty. 1043 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Poncey-Highland
It’s not fair that Old Fourth Ward gets Field Day. There already are so many exceptional casual restaurants in and around the neighborhood and woefully few in so many other parts of town. We all know it’s the BeltLine’s fault, of course. That notorious restaurant hoarder is sucking up too much of the city’s culinary energy. In fact, a mere half-mile up the BeltLine, there’s another spot a lot like Field Day: Victory Sandwich Bar. Both spots have a hip, lived-in quality—the kind of places that breed regulars because it’s so delightful to hang out there. And both excel at the sandwich. But I think I like Field Day even more.
The Big Day burger gets deserved hype, with bacon agrodolce, confit egg yolk, and Tillamook cheddar piled atop a double patty, but the real star of Field Day is the chicken yakitori roll. Props to my server for insisting I order it, because it sounds far less exciting than it tastes. French bread, freakishly soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, is slathered with charred-scallion aioli, heaped with tare-glazed chunks of velvety chicken thigh, and topped with fresh greens. That sweet, thick soy marinade mingles with the creamy, vegetal aioli to create something fierce. Paired with a side of harukei turnips coated with sweet-and-sour mustard and bursting with their own juices, the yakitori roll easily becomes the most craveable meal I’ve eaten this year. Stick around long enough for the expert cocktails, and you might find room for a second sandwich—say, a grilled cheese with kimchi, white cheddar, and Gruyère. Or another yakitori roll. 668 Highland Avenue, Old Fourth Ward
There’s a new best restaurant for pregaming before a show at the Fox. Former St. Cecilia chef Craig Richards has joined forces with restaurateur Billy Streck of Nina & Rafi and Hampton & Hudson at this handsome, European-ish joint, where the elegant, horseshoe-shaped terrazzo bar is fronted by goldenrod velvet club stools and the dining room’s picture windows romantically frame Peachtree Street.
The food suits the enchanting mood. The lid over a bowl of cold-smoked scallops is dramatically lifted to release plumes of the chilly, fragrant vapor that have infused the generous portion of bivalves, and grilled spears of lettuce hearts are dressed in a silky robe of green goddess dressing. Lobster risotto is cleverly spiked with ginger and pink peppercorns, though a brick of crispy duck lasagna tastes like it sat under the broiler for too long. Still, Lyla Lila serves very fine pasta in a very fine setting. 693 Peachtree Street, Midtown
Bold Monk Brewing Co.
This massive and visually stunning brewery exudes both old-world charm and industrial-chic modernism. But the equally stunning decibel level and the shockingly inattentive service made it hard to appreciate during a recent visit. That’s a shame, because Bold Monk’s food is inspired, as is its beer. A starter of coal-roasted cabbage dotted with feta atop a bed of sumac-laced labneh was lick-the-plate delicious. It would be easy to scarf down an entire pizza topped with forest mushrooms and truffle tomme cheese, but you’re better off sharing it with the table to make room for a burger or a black barley grain bowl—and for another Virtue of Temperance, a slightly bitter table beer that tastes of honey and oak, or Indominus Quadruple, with its heady notes of raisin, cacao, and burnt sugar. 1737 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, Blandtown
This article appears in our April 2020 issue.