Just over a year ago, Billy Allin’s beloved restaurant Cakes & Ale shut its doors in Decatur Square. Last Tuesday, chef Terry Koval (of Wrecking Bar Brewpub and Farm Burger) ushered in a new era, re-christening the space with farm-focused dinner spot, the Deer and the Dove, and adjacent bagel bakery, B-Side.
“At the end of the day, we’re a high-energy, neighborhood restaurant,” says Koval, who partnered with George Frangos of Farm Burger on the project.
The duo hired a tried-and-true team with Evan Cordes (formerly of Cast Iron) as chef de cuisine, Miranda Vick (Empire State South) as pastry chef, and Dut Goodman (Octane/Revelator) leading the Counterculture-based coffee program. (Nick Jennings is taking the lead in the Wrecking Bar kitchen while Koval focuses on the Deer and the Dove.)
The menu leans rustic New American with small plates and entrees based on locally sourced items. These include whole wood-roasted trout with broccoli florets and sweetbreads; the D&D burger with thyme aioli, morels, gouda and truffle cheese, crispy shallots, and salted egg yolk; and dry-aged ribeye, served with anchovy and grilled onion relish and beef fat potatoes with sour cream and onion.
Wine director Kristina Ferdinand created a menu focused on natural and sustainable wines, while beverage director Jason Kemp designs cocktails using herbs from the onsite garden. In a few months, drinks like these will be offered in the evenings at B-Side, along with small plates. For now, customers can stop by during breakfast or lunch for wood-fired Montreal-style bagels with Beautiful Briny Sea topping and house-made schmears in flavors such as smoked trout or goat cheese and peach.
“We’re really proud of the bagels,” Koval says. “We boil them, put them on wooden planks wrapped in burlap and steam them, and finish them on stones in the woodfired oven. You get that nice chew with airy pockets and wood-burning char like on the pizza at Antico.”
B-Side also offers sandwiches—think egg-on-a-roll or pimento cheese—bagel chips with chicken liver pate, and chocolate chip cookies. In the short time B-Side has been open, its cookies have gotten so popular that you can now ask for them off-menu at the Deer and the Dove (but the supply is limited).
We spoke to Koval to learn more.
Why did you decide to open these restaurants in Decatur?
The landlords reached out to me about the space. It’s beautiful—what an amazing opportunity. I live four minutes away. This is the center of Decatur. It’s the hustle and bustle. Once we took the drapes off the [windows], you could see everyone walking by. It’s very high energy and the community is very diverse. People wave as I ride a skateboard from the parking deck. I feel five years younger.
[With B-Side,] Decatur needed another coffee shop on this side of town. The equipment was there. When we saw the wood-burning oven, we knew we wanted to do something different. No one in Atlanta is doing wood-fired bagels.
How do you feel about replacing Cakes & Ale, which was consistently ranked among top restaurants in the city?
Cakes & Ale was an institution. It left a hole in the dining community in Decatur. It’s big shoes to fill, absolutely, but I’ve been in the kitchen since I was 15. I built a good reputation in the community. I feel really good about it.
What did you do to change the look and feel of the space?
We opened up dining room and bar area and exposed some old brick. We took the kitchen door off so people can peak their heads in if they want. We want to bring the garden and patio to life. No one ever sat on the patio [when it was Cakes & Ale].
The colors are dark blue and white, and there’s an old mural on the wall in B-Side. It’s super clean, tight, and simple. I don’t like overdesign. There’s a large black and white photograph in [the Deer and the Dove] foyer that pays homage to my history in skateboarding. [Koval left home at 15 to become a professional skateboarder.]
What’s your inspiration for the food?
They had the wood-burning oven in the kitchen. It evolved from there. The idea is taking the idea of outside and cooking inside. We built an open hearth for Porchetta, meats, vegetables, and hanging the trout. We do a lacquered quail dish with strawberry jam and Anson mills peas.