Part tapas restaurant and part upscale lounge, bar ONE offers a sultry retreat from Atlanta's daily bustle and peach-avalanches. The lounge's ivory sofas, artful semi-nude photos, and mirror-polished surfaces create a chic background, no matter where or how guests choose to situate themselves. The best foreground, however, is a spread of small plates that blend the classic flavors of southern food with the spices and fruits of the Caribbean. Coconut curry shrimp, for instance, shares the spotlight with sweet potato waffles, and jerk chicken is folded into quesadillas. That combination of tastes is personal for Chef Natasha Wong, who draws on culinary know-how gleaned from both her years of cooking professionally in the states and her childhood spent in the Virgin Islands helping out in her parents' kitchen.
Situated just steps from the historic Fox Theatre, Churchill Grounds tantalizes patrons with nightly live-jazz sessions and a menu of eclectic entrees and thirst-quenchers. During a scotch tasting, diners can sip, slurp, and dab their inner wrists with a quintet of mini whiskeys poured by laser-shrunken Scotsmen. Churchill Grounds' proprietor highlights different scotches frequently, though a flight might include Glenlivet 12, Glenmorangie 10, or Cragganmore. For patrons seeking more solid fuel, chefs slow-roast boneless beef ribs before dousing them in soy-garlic sauce ($18.95), and wild mushroom ravioli with a light garlic cream sauce ($10.95) fills empty stomachs. The hummus dip arrives with warm pita wedges ($7.95), stir-fried calamari rings ($14.95) inspire fork-diving into a pool of spicy red-pepper sauce, and spinach-artichoke dip begins meals with light fare ($7.95). Cure parched pouts with red or white wine ($5.50–$9/glass) complemented by artisanal cheese plates (market price), or a selection of beers from around the world, including Pilsner Urquell ($4.50) and La Fin du Monde ($6.25).
MidCity Cafe sates hunger pangs and quenches thirsty throats with a menu stuffed with eclectic cuisine, soda and coffee drinks, and creative martinis. Un-pitted french olives adjudicate as slices of toasted pita bread swan dive into the Mediterranean-style hummus plate ($7.25), allowing chefs to focus their cooking goggles on artfully bundling pork, shrimp, and vegetables into crunch-laden fried spring rolls ($4.94). For heartier fare, hands can happily wrap around MidCity’s banh mi ($5.95–$8.95), a Saigon-style sandwich built on a foundation of crispy baguette and layered with pickled daikon, fresh jalapeño, and a choice of meaty or meat-free protein. Fuel liquid lust with a selection from 15 inventive Grey Goose martinis ($9 each), such as the French Toast martini, which whips up a Bond-style breakfast of Amarula fruit cream liqueur, Frangelico, and a dash of self-destructing cinnamon.
What do you get when you cross local, farm-to-table ingredients with a southern-cooking mentality? It’s a question that Briza attempts to answer with food that stands out for its dedication to quality—yet doesn’t skimp on the playfulness. When making the menu, Executive Chef Janine Falvo was inspired by her family’s robust culinary traditions and by the chefs she worked under as she made her name in the business. From them she contracted a passion for working with only fresh and local ingredients whose flavors pop on their own merits.. Her cornmeal fried green tomatoes up the ante on the Southern staple, with a breading that melds with the acidity of its pickled shrimp accompaniment. Halibut comes on a bed of lobster homefries, in which each chunk of crustacean and each tiny, crisp potato cube contributes flavor or texture. Then there’s the organic smoked and fried chicken, which adds a new layer to a well-loved dish. Certainly it’s that creativity that played a part in previously awarding Falvo with Restaurant Hospitality's Rising Star Chef accolade. Looking around the modern-meets-baroque dining room, it’s evident that a mix of textures is just as important in the scenery as it is in the food. Velvety couches flank stainless steel cocktail tables in the bar area and the dining room cozies studded armchairs up to heavy wood tables. Everything looks touchable, yet museum-worthy—a conundrum that thankfully doesn’t apply to the pretty and magnetic food.
Gastronomic glamour comes standard at London Bistro, a combination eclectic-fare restaurant and after-hours lounge, dishing up Indian-, Kenyan-, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Sink incisors into international menu items, such as the Oxford beef stew, featuring beef cuts simmered in brown sauce and veggies and paired with the cultural carbs of basmati rice or chapati bread ($10). The Kings Cambridge crab cakes features two crustacean circles trading for plate territory with claw-signed treaties, then relaxing among a garden of mixed greens drizzled in a mango sauce ($15). Parched patrons can wash down mouthfuls of sausage and mashed potatoes from the bangers and mash ($10) with a free cocktail Tuesdays through Thursdays.
From behind three black granite bars—the longest of which extends 36 feet—bartenders decant imported and domestic beer and shake up specialty cocktails. The posh bars, along with gold-accented black-velvet banquet seating, flank a dark-wood dance floor packed with grooving patrons perfecting dance moves and trying to pretend like they're not incredibly out of breath. Overhead, a 5-foot disco ball and a floating DJ booth lord over the raucous party, which is fueled by a premium sound system blasting popular tunes and Top 40 hits on Saturday night.
Upstairs, a horseshoe-shaped enclosed lounge with private tables, separates private parties from the dancing masses below, which VIP guests can view from a glass room that accommodates up to 125 patrons silently holding up scorecards to rate their moves.