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Craftbar Atlanta

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Saturday night, I wrotefrom our Atlanta hotel room that by arriving in Georgia that evening, I had added #45 to my list of visited states. I had intended to write a second post that night, about our superb dinner at Craftbar earlier in the evening, but I was too tired. I’ll make up for it now, though the excitement has dissipated along the way.

When choosing our hotel, we didn’t have a clear idea of where to be. From what little I read, I decided we might enjoy staying in the Buckhead neighborhood — the northern part of Atlanta with some of the best hotels, restaurants, and shopping — and so we booked ourselves in one of the newest Buckhead hotels, The Mansion on Peachtree. It’s a fifteen-story boutique hotel and our room was on the eleventh floor, with views of some other nearby high rises and one of the malls. Only the next day, when we drove off, circled around the mall, and came around on the far side, did I realize that the hotel is in fact one of the two or three tallest buildings in Buckhead. Tall and very narrow. The hotel occupies the bottom floors, but there are another 30+ floors of condos. There’s a mid section with two two-bedroom condos per narrow floor and an upper section, narrower still, with a three-bedroom condo filling each floor. The condo residents have a separate entry on the other side.

Hotel residents arrive by driving into a big courtyard, with the hotel on one side and a two-story building on the other. That’s where the restaurant is, or rather two restaurants. On the upper floor is a fancy restaurant, Craft, and on the ground floor is Craftbar, a combination bar and more casual restaurant. The original Craft, I should note, is in Manhattan, started by chef/owner Tom Colicchio. There are now additional Crafts in Atlanta, Dallas, and LA. You can read more at the website.

We got into our hotel room around 9:00 PM and weren’t eager to get back in the car in search of dinner. The options seemed to be room service or the restaurant across the way. We didn’t want a fancy, leisurely meal. Nor were we ready to call it an evening and stay in the room, since for us the time was only 6:00 PM. The casual Craftbar appeared to be our best choice. To our surprise, when we arrived there at 9:30 PM, without having called over for a reservation, the place was crowded and noisy. Fortunately, there was a two-top available. It was, in fact, the only open table in the whole place. We were lucky. We felt luckier still when we studied the menu. Everything looked fabulous. See for yourself, here.

How about that veal ricotta meatballs, pappardelle, tomato dish? I thought that was just what I wanted, until I looked at the next one down: smoked pork chop, fingerling potato, smoked bacon, grilled apple. Under the list of snacks, Gail liked the idea of crispy risotto fritters. But she’s a sucker for pork belly, and the pork belly, apple, curry, maple syrup appetizer sounded awfully tempting. We ended up relying on our excellent young waiter for advice. The meatballs are indeed their classic dish, but he loves the pork chop. And he assured Gail that the pork belly comes out crisp on the outside. But we had to try the risotto fritters. So here’s what we did. We ordered the fritters to come out with the appetizers as a shared snack. Gail got the pork belly. I got the baby spinach, applewood bacon, pickled egg salad. Then I got the pork chop entree and Gail ordered the hanger steak, potato purée, roasted root vegetable, garlic confit.

How was it? Every bit as good as it sounds. I was insistent that I didn’t want to try the pork belly, since my salad was more than ample and had bacon in it, but Gail insisted, and I can’t imagine how it could be better. Likewise for the pork chop. Likewise for everything. We had to pass on dessert. We were too full. But our visit to Atlanta had gotten off to a perfect start.

Categories: Restaurants, Travel
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