At first glance, the Alden feels a bit buttoned-up—which goes to show that you shouldn’t be fooled by looks. Located inside a mixed-use development in Chamblee, the restaurant, with its stiff decor and halting service, seems to need a dash of warmth. In the heart of the space, where a bar might otherwise be, is an open kitchen, ringed by seats for diners who choose the chef’s tasting menu. But those seats are too often empty. Chef Jared A. Hucks, an Atlanta native and Bacchanalia alum, left the city for several decades to cook at restaurants around the globe—including the inimitable Noma in Copenhagen and stints in Spain, Thailand, Australia, and Scotland. Given his pedigree and the dining room’s aesthetics, you might expect his food to take itself quite seriously. If so, you’ll be surprised by how playful and straight-up delicious these dishes are. A pappardelle with a deluge of morels, as well as baby spinach, peas, and tarragon, is like eating spring. Then, there’s the rainbow trout. The menu’s description does not prepare you for the uncited sunflower seeds, a seemingly ungainly amount of them caked to the inside of two fillets. You might think the volume of nuttiness would be overkill, but it’s actually perfect—especially with the accompanying rhubarb smear. It’s like a PBJ that grew up but hasn’t abandoned its inner child. What could be more comforting? 5070 Peachtree Boulevard, Chamblee, 678-395-6982
Is there a better, faster, cheaper, and healthier meal in Atlanta than the Casablanca Bowl at Recess? There is not. The Krog Street Market stall from the Castellucci Hospitality Group (Bar Mercado, Cooks & Soldiers, the Iberian Pig, etc.) does many things well: a crunchy, hearty salad of arugula, beets, fennel slaw, and savory granola, tossed in a turmeric–black pepper vinaigrette; a patty melt with a thick puree of mushroom in lieu of ground beef; a kid’s bowl with barley, shredded chicken, and roasted root vegetables that your kid might actually eat. All are solid. But that Casablanca Bowl . . . swoon. The seared okra is almost airy, the feta practically pillowy. The beluga lentils have just the right amount of chew, offset by the crunch of the puffed rice. Spice comes from a Moroccan-inflected carrot puree, and fragrant earthiness from herb salad and sauteed Swiss chard. Did we mention it costs $9? This most certainly is the start of a beautiful friendship. 99-V Krog Street, 404-596-8396
Drafts + Dogs
Does Atlanta need a $20 hot dog? Does anyone? Some may say it’s immodest to dress a dog with lobster meat and caviar and truffle butter, and they’re not wrong. Others might say that the flavor and textural profile of the ideal hot dog—salty and snappy and beefy and juicy—will obliterate the delicacy of lobster and, in combination with the caviar, create a sodium overload. That’s a fair point, too. But all in all, the I’m So Fancy hot dog at the Drafts + Dogs stall in Ponce City Market is pretty good, especially when that truffle butter kicks in; the oft-maligned condiment somehow works in this context. The only bummer about the I’m So Fancy (aside from its price) is that it just might be better without the hot dog. You’ll probably be just as happy with the $6 naked dog, or with the lobster roll across the way at W.H. Stiles Fish Camp. Of course, that lobster roll’s $37 price tag might make a $20 hot dog seem reasonable. P.S.: The “drafts” in the name refer to cocktails, specifically the four served on draft. Drafts + Dogs was still awaiting its liquor license in early June, but the fact that the stall belongs to Kristin and Missy Koefod of the cocktails and bitters company 18.21 Bitters is a guarantee that you’ll want some booze to wash down your dog. 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, no phone
Arnette’s Chop Shop
In a bucolic, residential patch of Brookhaven, the surprisingly glamorous Arnette’s feels like a social club for the 1 percent, which might be the precise vibe its owners—the same group behind Vero Pizzerio, Haven, and Valenza—are going for. The decor is wall of windows meets moody charcoal with lots of brass accents. The cocktails are elegant and traditional. The sear on scallops from the hearth is light, carrying the faintest kiss of smoke. The smoke on the hen-of-the-woods mushrooms is of the heartier, campfire variety, and the dish will make you pine for fall sweaters. But all of that aside, you are here for the steaks. The 1 percenters will opt for the $140, 40-ounce Old World Tomahawk (a server gloats that a table the night before ordered four). The Painted Hills Cowboy Ribeye might be slightly more sensible, at $60 for 22 ounces, and is more than enough to feed two. The expert char on the simply seasoned crust gives way to marbled meat as luscious as the whipped ricotta offered with the bread service. Your exercise in decadence should end with the baked Alaska; it’s always a good idea to go out on a cloud of toasty meringue surrounding mint chocolate chip ice cream. 2700 Apple Valley Road, Brookhaven, 404-969-0701
This article contains content published in our July and August 2018 issues.