by Jonathan Baker - 319 Reviews - 185 List
For the past few years, we Atlantans have known our city is a culinary hotbed of underrated-but-damn-good restaurants. And, thanks to a few James Beard awards, an Iron Chef slayer and Top Chef stud, it seems that the rest of the country is taking notice. This might be why restaurateurs (and a mixologist) in the consumption-Mecca metropolitan of New York have been transplanting their namesake digs, and themselves, here in the Hotlanta.
Updated: September 17, 2009
It's hard for a new steakhouse to come in and differentiate itself from Atlanta's touted steak joints like Bones or Kevin Rathbun Steak. Having nothing to do with the popular sandwich, BLT Steak (short for Bistro Laurent Tourondel) took residence in the W Downtown and made an instant surprising mark on our culinary landscape. Steaks arrive sizzling in skillets, topped with pats of butter that melt into the steak as you cut into it making the delicious slices actually improve as you eat them. Popovers, made famous by their NY location arrive tasting like a bakery smells and adding yet another reason give it a try.
Jeff Varasano didn't move to Atlanta to open a namesake restaurant, but he was inspired to do so after a futile search for pizza that could compare to his beloved Patsy's in New York. For months, Varasano spent his days developing software and his nights trying to perfect his pizza recipe. Opened in 2009, Varasano's serves some damn impressive NY-style `za in the not-so-NY land of Sobu. Get the Nana's house special and thank us later.
What should you do if you can't afford the second-story dining at Craft in the Mansion? Hit the downstairs bar, of course! The little sister to Colicchio's uber-expensive flagship, Craftbar is more casual and offers the same quality but in smaller portions. Skewers of bacon-wrapped swordfish and quail accented with blackberries take a page out of the upstairs menu while sandwiches and burgers get the added attention you?d expect from a James Beard award winner.
Honestly, nothing about NY says ?gourmet ice cream? to us. But, what do you know, the owner of this cute fancy ice-cream shop happens to hail from ? wait for it? Brooklyn! NY-established or not, Morellis rocks. While Cold Stone and Baskin Robbins are throwing out the typical mint chocolates and rocky roads, Morellis gets creative with flavors like corn or coconut jalapeno. And they have a logical ice-cream counterpart--crepes. Different, yet awesome: Morellis.
Atlanta has plenty of high-end Italian restaurants--Sotto Sotto, Veni Vedi Vici, La Pietra Cucin--but we didn't have anything like Greenwich Village's famed Il Mulino until it opened an Atlanta outpost in 2009. Il Mulino is like if Bones got a little more expensive, more formal and served bang-up Italian food. Dinner will be a once-a-year splurge for most people, but it's well worth it for an experience that's like dining in a different era. And, for those who want to try the food but are on a budget, they do a buffet lunch Monday through Friday for $11. No, that's not a typo.
We've never been to Sasha Petraske's Milk and Honey in NY, but we can say Drinkshop might be the purest bar in Atlanta. There are no soda guns, no flavored vodkas and ice is hand-carved for each drink. It's old-school in all the right ways. If you ask nicely, the dapper bartenders will make you their homemade gingerale, which is so good you don't even need to add booze--and a good indication their mixed drinks are damn good.
Leave it to Jean Georges to one, develop gourmet Asian street food and two, kill it in NY's Meatpacking District. Far from Chinese take-out, the street vendor concept translates well at Spice Market, the trendy W Midtown's featured restaurant. The concept is gourmet Pan-Asian finger food, and we suggest going with sharable items like chicken skewers or salt-and-pepper catfish.