Friday, October 12, 2012


Really anticipating a great meal at THE OPTIMIST!  It took my son, who lives and works in Chicago, to tell me about it.  Don't know how it escaped my restaurant radar, especially since I'm in love with JCT Kitchen, but after checking it out online, and then reading reviews, I'm racing over!

Photo Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee via the Optimist

Normally I find it quite annoying when you go to a website and are bombarded with sounds - music, talking, or whatever.  However, I absolutely LOVE that when you go on their website, you listen to soothing ocean sounds.  That's my favorite sound on the Planet!  I seriously kept the page open while I was working, just so I could continue to fantasize about sitting on the beach!  Furthermore, the website has such a great feel - gorgeous photographs of their food and the interior of the restaurant, and the site is visually appealing and easy to access as well.  Again, not something I normally ever comment on, but I'd recommend checking it out before you dine there.

The Optimist
914 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia  30318

Chef/Owner Ford Fry (who also owns JCT Kitchen, and No. 246) has created this restaurant to satisfy Atlantans' seafood cravings.  Their website offers that Executive Chef Adam Evans flies in Maine sea scallops and fresh oysters from both coasts, along with items such as whole-roasted Georgia trout to garlicky clams. And to give you an idea of how this restaurant appears to be doing, I attempted a weekend reservation to no avail, so I'm going on a Thursday evening, and the only time slot available is at 5:45PM!

Here's a Sample Menu from their website:

east coast oysters, fresh horseradish, mignonette / 2.5 ea
peel & eat ga white shrimp, “come back” sauce & lemon / 12. per 1/2 lb.
snap & eat jonah crab claws, mustard sauce / 12. per 1/2 lb.
seafood gumbo, “pot luck” garlic bread / 9.
frothy she-crab soup, shrimp toast / 9.
smoked white fish chowder, oyster crackers / 9.
simple salad, shaved celery & herbs, banyuls vinaigrette / 7.
little gem salad, meyer lemon anchovy dressing, croutons, parmesan / 7.
arugula, feta cheese, muscadine vinaigrette / 8.
garlicky tiny clams & pork belly, hand-torn croutons / 9.
mussels, green curry broth, birds eye chile, picked herbs / 9.
fried oysters, smoked paprika mayonnaise, house pickles /9.
whole ga white shrimp a la plancha, “sopping” toast, arbol chile, lime / 11. …(messy, but worth it)
crispy long beans, sea salt, buttermilk-dill mignonette / 7.
fried clam roll, kimchi vinegar, house pickles / 9.
grilled bacon-wrapped figs, toasted almonds, aged balsamic / 10.
spicy glazed spanish octopus, watermelon, coriander / 12.
black grouper, low country boil, shrimp / 24.
alaskan halibut, garlic cream, celery, calabrese peppers / 26.
seared yellowfin tuna, charred octopus & potato salad, harissa / 26.
fish & chips, ale battered haddock, malt vinegar aioli / 18.
sea scallops, oxtail marmalade, brown butter-chicken jus / 28.
duck fat poached swordfish, green papaya, crispy country ham, peanuts / 24.
speckled trout, charred okra, pepper jelly / 24.
fish & chips, ale battered haddock, malt vinegar aioli / 18.
red snapper, lime broth, herbs / 25.
cioppino, sofrito, tomato broth, mussels, oysters, fennel / 24.
black bass, charred scallions and peppers, pickled shiitakes / 20.
john dory, summer corn, basil / 24.
wood roasted half amish chicken, almost boneless, salsa verde / 18.
glazed pork shoulder, palm sugar baked beans / 22.
skirt steak, romesco sauce, beef jus / 24.


So, my husband and I dined at The Optimist last night.  I'm (almost) at a loss for words to describe how much I love this restaurant.  From the exterior, the lounge (Oyster Bar), the putt putt golf out front with seating, the servers, the bathrooms (yes, they were stunning too!) and oh yes, THE FOOD!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's start with driving up, and quickly a valet greets us.  We then walk over to the restaurant and are immediately commenting on how cool this place is!  Then, once you enter the restaurant, you feel like you're a special guest.  It's just so inviting and warm and totally current with rustic, industrial chic decor with an open kitchen.

We then were seated and almost immediately met our fabulous server, Jonathan (who had another server, James, who was shadowing him).  We were perusing our menus, and another guy brought us these scrumptious little yeast rolls topped with sea salt.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We then chose our drinks from their newly updated for fall drink menu.  My husband went with a version of a Dark and Stormy, called Release the Kraken.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
All I can say here is, "Wow!" It was so delicious!  It was smooth and tasted like a Coca-Cola with a kick.  We were fighting over it actually! ;0)

I ordered an Old Salty Dog.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
It was good, but the great thing about it was the salt rimmed glass, as it included ginger, which was yummy.

We knew we wanted oysters, and we've loved the oysters at their sister restaurant, JCT Kitchen.  Jonathan personally hand selected small west coast oysters for us after discussing what kind of oysters we like.  They were so amazing, that we almost forgot to take a picture!  Here is the final oyster about to be gobbled up!
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

These were just so good.  They were served with a great mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce, fresh horseradish, lemon and these wonderful hard cracker/toasts.

Next we chose a first course.  My husband went with the true star of the evening.  He had (at Jonathan's recommendation) the octopus - spicy glazed spanish octopus, kalamata olives, peppers, coriander.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

This dish is just a flavor explosion in your mouth!  We both LOVED it!  I'd go back there tomorrow and order that for lunch, as I'm craving it already.  Yum!

I went with their Simple Salad.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Normally, it's not too sexy to wax on and on about a bed of greens.  But let me tell you, this salad was just perfect.  Everything was fresh and the dressing was fabulous.  It was, for me, the perfect first course - especially given the fact that we were sharing a bit, and did I mention that I'm in love with the octopus?

For our main courses we went with Halibut and Tuna.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
This halibut (alaskan halibut, garlic cream, celery, calabrese peppers) was wonderful.  The calabrese peppers added just enough punch to nicely offset the creamy white fish and sauce.  Loved it!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
This tuna was great!  The picture of it (seared yellowfin tuna, charred octopus & potato salad, harissa) doesn't do it justice, but the harissa (I'm a big fan) was such a nice flavor change from the usual soy sauce concoction.  And the bits of charred octopus and crunchy little potatoes were a great accompaniment.

We were too full for dessert, but next time, I'll try and save some room.  Check out this fabulous menu:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Check out the middle of the dessert menu - a TO GO section!  Why has no one ever thought of this idea before?  I'm always stuffed right after dinner, and it's rare that I even consider dessert for that reason.  The Optimist has a solution - a small sweet to take with you.  The 2 options on this evening were a Chocolate-covered Frozen Banana or a Key Lime Pie Push Pop.  I just love these options!

Hat's off to Ford Fry and Adam Evans for creating an innovative, beautiful restaurant.  I realize that this review is just ridiculously glowing, but I honestly can't say anything bad about it.  In fact, it may be my new favorite restaurant in Atlanta!  It's a MUST GO TO place!  I cannot wait to go back!

Finally, a shout out to my son - THANK YOU FOR SENDING ME TO THE OPTIMIST!!!

***Follow up visit:
I went back to The Optimist last night prior to going to a Georgia Tech basketball game, and we just enjoyed The Oyster Bar.  It was just as fabulous as the restaurant!  Kumamoto oysters, Lobster Roll and Lobster Fritters - all simply devine.  Great service, and such a fun atmosphere.  Loved it!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


My husband and I made the trip to Babette's Cafe recently as guests of my mother and her husband to celebrate my husband's birthday.
Photo Credit: Babette's Cafe
573 North Highland Avenue
Atlanta, GA  30307
Ph. (404) 523-9121

Chef/Owner: Marla Adams

While I've been to Babette's Cafe a couple of times before, each experience has been a bit different. The food has been good, but the service has been a little inconsistent in the past.

However, on this evening, the service and the food were outstanding.

When we walked in the door, we were warmly greeted by the Chef/Owner, Marla Adams. Ms. Adams was previously with the Peasant Restaurant group as well as Buckhead Life Group.  She opened Babette's in the fall of 1992.  She and the restaurant are celebrating 20 years in Atlanta!

As you look around the restaurant, you will immediately feel transported to Europe. The restaurant is in an old house on North Highland Avenue, and it is decorated with attention to detail so that you feel comfortable and relaxed as soon as you are seated. And while our last visit, we were not too pleased with our server or the wait for our food coming out of the kitchen at times, on this visit, the server, Robin, who is an 8 year veteran of Babette's, was very good. He was knowledgeable and helpful with navigating the menu.

We sat down and were immediately presented with a wonderful baguette with fresh butter to nosh on.  It was great, and I just loved the rustic presentation in a galvanized bucket.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We started with cocktails which included my current fav - Moscow Mule. Unfortunately this drink wasn't the highlight of our evening. After I "sold" it to my mother, she ordered one as well. The bartender was a bit heavy handed with the lime, and each sip of the drink caused the pucker factor. Once the ice melted it was drinkable, but they need to work on those ratios.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The menu is beautifully presented, and it was tough to make a decision, as so many items were appealing.  The menu provides, as their website states, "very traditional peasant dishes done with an up-to-date character and flavors."

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

They also offer a Prix Fixe supper menu that we didn't choose, but it looked fantastic:

The first course was very good, but we gobbled it up so fast that I was unable to take any pictures. But 3 of us ordered the following:

*a romaine and arugula salad with shaved parmesan and a creamy dressing - Romaine and Arugula Salad with shaved asiago and lemon thyme dressing

*a bowl of beer cheese soup - Beer Cheese Soup with Brioche Croutons

*a seasonal beet and pear salad - Roasted Baby Beets with Goat Cheese and D'Anjou Pears

The green salad was delicious - light with a nice marriage of flavors. But the real hero here was the soup! It was fabulous - not too heavy, but the seasonings were just right. The beet and pear salad was (to quote my mother), "Just OK." Babette's is my mother's FAVORITE restaurant in Atlanta, and she's ordered another beet salad they've had in the past and loved it, but this one didn't fit the bill for her.

Then we moved on to the main courses which fortunately were all very good.

The birthday boy (my husband) ordered a beef filet with gorgonzola sauce - Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Saucewith horseradish mashed potatoes and spicy onion rings, and it was out of this world. The meat was cooked to perfection, and the cheese was just right and not overpowering. I'd stack it up against any of the big pricey Atlanta/Buckhead steakhouses any day.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

I ordered the veal piccata - Veal Piccata - strauss free raised: with lemons, capers and butter sauce, seasonal vegetablesand I will tell you - it might be the best veal piccata I've ever tasted! It was pounded very very thin, so it was tender and not chewy, and with each bite you could taste the richness of the butter with the saltiness of the capers and lemon. Loved it! It came with a side dish of mashed
potatoes, french green beans and diced sweet potatoes. Those were very good as well.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

My mother got the sole - New England Sole with Grilled Fennel and Orange Compote,with organo potatoesand her's was strangely prepared I'll have to say.  It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't delicately prepared the way the French prepare sole.  My mother's reaction was tepid at best.  Maybe the fennel bothered her?

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
And finally, my mother's husband ordered pork medallions - Sauteed Medallions of Pork Tenderloin
with a whole grain mustard sauce and grilled asparagus, and he loved them.  I didn't have a taste, but the dish looked great.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We were very full, so we only had an order of homemade pecan ice cream for dessert.  Wow!  Delish!  It was served in a Sundae glass along with 2 shortbread cookies.  Very nicely done.  My husband had a cappuccino with Bailey's that was devine.  Next visit I'll HAVE to have the chocolate bread pudding or creme brulee - both sounded amazing.

All in all, it was a fabulous dining experience.  So glad they fine tuned the kitchen timing and waitstaff.  But the real reason to go there is the food and atmosphere.  Marla Adams is a gift to Atlanta for sure!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Enjoying a bite at BOCADO!

Last Friday, following a Lacrosse game at Georgia Tech, my brother (who was visiting from Orlando) wanted to take us out to dinner.  So, a group of ten of us headed over to Bocado for dinner.  I had read good things about this restaurant, and it's location made it perfect for that night.

Photo Credit: Bocado

The restaurant has gotten great reviews for the owner, Brian Lewis, and Executive Chef Todd Ginsburg, prepares simple foods with flair. Their website states that they focus on original gourmet sandwiches and savory small plates.  Looking at other reviews, the dishes are varied and change often, so you might not find your favorite dish upon a second visit.

887 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 815-1399

The restaurant has an industrial look on the outside and inside, with utilitarian tables and chairs.  Each table has a vase with fresh herbs.

Photo Credit: Yelp

We started with some appetizers and drinks while we waited for my nephews, one who is a freshman Lacrosse player at GT, and the other from Orlando, to arrive.

The menu is very small, as it changes daily.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bocado has a great wine and beer selection as well as (my favorite) unique cocktails that change with the season.

This drink was by far the favorite of the group!  It was a version of (my new love) a Moscow Mule, but it was made with tequila.  It was called a SMOKED MULE - el espolon reposado, lime, ginger, mezcal, grapefruit bitters, and house-made ginger beer.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Then we went with the following appetizers:

Deviled eggs topped with Edwards country ham, Devil relish

Fried Oysters, Napa cabbage kimchee, nori and srirachi mayo

Fried Avocado quinoa, cilantro, cucumbers, radishes, lime cream 

The deviled eggs won the crowd over so much that we started with 2 orders, and then we had to get another order to satisfy our craving!  That addition of country ham is killer!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
The fried oysters were delicious.  We plowed into them before I could snap a good photo, but I'd definitely order them again - very yummy indeed!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The fried avocado was something I HAD to order, as I had read great reviews about them, and I adore avocados. Unfortunately, they were my least favorite appetizer. The quinoa and cucumbers that surrounded them were great, but, alas, the avocado was very bland.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We ordered entrees next, and they only have around 6 to choose from. Fortunately all we sampled were delish!

Several of us went with the Burger Stack. It's 2 patties topped with American cheese and house-made pickles on really good bread. But what is TO DIE FOR is the fries. They are tossed with herbs and parmesan cheese and served with a Buttermilk Ranch dressing with dill. So good.

My photo of the burger stack really wasn't very appetizing, but this picture does it justice.
Photo Credit: Yelp

Photo Credit: Serious Eats

I do need to note one thing about my burger however. About half way through the dinner, I bit into something very hard that I couldn't chew that was about a half an inch long. Yuck. At that point I was squeamish and unable to eat any more of the meat, so I simply scarfed down the amazing fries. The burger was tasty, but sadly I wouldn't order it again.
Another entree that was terrific was the French prepared Sole.

It's served over succotash with a garlic, thyme and lemon vinaigrette.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

My mother and her husband ordered the pasta and raved about it. It's freshly made strigoli pasta with clams, peppers, tomatoes and shallots.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Both of my nephews ordered the flat iron steak dinner. From the looks of their plates afterward, the dish was a success.
It's served with potatoes, marinated zucchini, heirloom tomatoes and a horseradish cream sauce.

Photo Credit:
So our dining experience was a success at Bocado!  And our server was out of this world.  We had a large group, and 2 of the group arrived long after the first 8, so we were ordering in shifts.  She couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful with navagating the menu.  We'll be back...

*One other note - they only have one bathroom for women and one bathroom for men, and there was a line to get in it seemed most of the time. So, every time someone in our party left, they were gone for what seemed like an eternity. Not the end of the world, but I felt like it should be mentioned.

Monday, September 3, 2012


So excited to try this restaurant!  I went with my family to Florence and Tuscany last summer, and I'm eager to see what this Tuscan restaurant in Atlanta is all about.

519 E Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta, GA  30305

Antica Posta is owned by brothers (Owner Marco Betti (Right)
and brother Chef Alessandro Betti)
 who hail from Tuscany.

Photos courtesy of Antica Posta

Photo Credit: Antica Posta

Inside Antica Posta
Photo Credit: Antica Posa

The menu is quintessential Tuscan fare including: Tuscan salumi, fresh prosciutto and mozzarella, Ossobuco, Grilled lamb, Veal scallopini as well as an assortment of pastas and pizzas and more. It is way too vast to include here however.

We dined there on a Friday night with friends.  As you drive up to the restaurant (which is in an old house), you are greeted by the valet quickly, and then you walk a few steps to the non-descript front door.  Upon entering, we were immediately at the hostess stand, and the hostess was very peppy and welcoming.  Our seats were in their back dining area (see picture above), and there were only a few other patrons there at 7:00PM.

The ambiance of the restaurant is a little different.  When you walk in the bar is to your right.  As you are being taken to your table, you must go past a short hallway past the restrooms, and the main dining area is in the back.  In spite of the photo from their website, at 7:00PM, it was very dark.  Also, we were there on a Friday night in Buckhead, and the restaurant was never more than half full.  

Our waiter arrived promptly and handed us our menus and took our drink orders (we went with a bottle of pinot grigio).  He was OK albeit very soft spoken, and at times it was difficult to understand him.  When we were trying to decide on appetizers, he recommended an antipasto platter that he customized, along with a plate of octopus, that he claimed was one of their specialties.  The difficulty at Antica Posta is deciding on what to order.  The menu is vast, and I just couldn't include it here.

The antipasto selection with a caprese salad, a filet of beef and veal meatball and a ravioli stuffed with spinach and sage:
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

This little selection was so good.  The caprese was fresh and delicious; the meatball was to die for with delish tomato sauce, and the ravioli was decadent.  It actually made me wish I had ordered pasta as my main course!

The grilled octopus plate:
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Not sure I've ever had octopus presented in this way?  But it was very good, and I was glad we ordered it. For our main courses we went with the following:

veal chop
veal scallopini
seafood risotto
sea bass

Our salad of arugula with shaved parmesan:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
The salad was OK.  It contained romaine and arugula, so for me it lacked something, as I really like the contrast with the arugula and parmesan in a salad.  But the presentation was nice.

My veal scallopini with peas and green beans:
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
The veal was prepared perfectly.  The capers added just the right amount of saltiness and tang, and I actually liked the baby peas and green beans, even though I don't think I'd ever serve them together myself.

My husband's veal chop (another highly recommended dish by our waiter):
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
I'm not a big veal chop fan, but this veal was very good.  It was tender and seasoned well.

My friend's seafood risotto:
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
This risotto was the risotto special of the day, and it was delicious! It was loaded with a cornucopia of seafood items.  So good!

And my other friend's sea bass:
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
I love sea bass, and this one was very tasty.  It was well prepared and was moist inside and lightly crispy on the outside.  The rosemary added and nice contrast in flavor.

We opted out of dinner and had another glass of wine.  It was a very nice evening with friends.  The food at Antica Posta was very good, and the only drawback was the price (well over $300 for 4 people).  And our waiter and bus staff were a bit awkward at times - not sure who had what dish and a bit of difficulty deciding to serve dishes to the right or left etc.  But if you are on an expense account or in the area, it's a good representation of Tuscany for sure.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Doug Bogue

Monday, August 13, 2012

ARIA: Definitely the highlight of our evening!

On an unusually cool(ish) night in August in Atlanta, we headed to Aria for a dinner on the eve of taking our daughter back to college.  Aria's Chef/Owner is Gerry Klaskala.

Aria is located in Buckhead at:

490 East Paces Ferry
Atlanta, GA  30305

We pulled in and were immediately greeted by a friendly valet and escorted inside.

Photo Credit: Aria
Upon entering at 6:45PM, it was a bit alarming, as it was bright and sunny outside and extremely dark inside.  It definitely takes a few moments to adjust (and we saw one person after another struggle and stumble in as they entered).  But we were warmly greeted by the hostess and gave our information.

We decided to have a drink in their lounge area prior to dinner. The lounge is just beyond the hostess stand separated by silver handing beads.  It's very dark with black walls and red sofas and ottomans.

The Snooty Duchess was a deliciously refreshing drink by the way...
sparkling (Cherry Sgroppino) Sarrazin Brut Cherry Vodka
aperitif (The Snooty Duchess) Cocchi Americano Licor 43 Soda
Lime-Ginger Puree
Fresh Lemon Juice
white port (Afternoon in the Duoro) Warre’s White Port Domaine de Canton Fresh Mint and Basil Lemon Syrup
gin (White Lady) Junipero Dry Cointreau Egg White Fresh Lemon Juice
rye whiskey (Drunken Monk) Rittenhouse 100 Blueberry Shrub
brandy (St. Charles Punch) Camus VS Cognac Orange Liqueur Simple Syrup Fresh Lemon Juice
Benedictine Fortified Shiraz
Cocchi Americano, Asti, Italy Carpano's Antica Formula, Piedmont, Italy Campari, Lombardy, Italy Aperol, Veneto, Italy Daniel Bouju, Pineau des Charentes, France Lillet Rouge, Bordeaux, France
bottled beer
Reissdorf, Kölsch, Cologne, Germany
Sweetwater, Ipa, Atlanta, GA
Brewery Ommegang, Witte, Cooperstown, NY Estrella Damm, Inedit, Barcelona, Spain (24 Oz) Leipziger Gose, Leipzig, Germany (20 Oz) Duchesse de Bourgogne, Flanders Red Ale, Vichte, Belgium Unibroue, La Fin Du Monde, Tripel Ale, Quebec, Canada North Coast, Old Rasputin, Russian Imp. Stout, Ft. Bragg, CA
Amaro, Quintessentia, Nonino, Friuli
Fernet, Branca, Fratelli Branca, Lombardia
Moscato, Jacopo Poli, Veneto
Brunelo Di Montalcino, Marolo Tuscany
calvados/apple brandy
Laird’s, Bottled In Bond, Apple Brandy
Chauffe-cœur, Hors D'age, Calvados
Martel VS Remy Martin VSOP Kelt VSOP Martel Noblige Pierre Ferrand Sélection Anges Camus XO Remy Martin Extra Delamain, Tres Venerable
other eau-de-vie
William Pear, Trimbach Grande Réserve, Alsace
Johnnie Walker Blue
Hibiki 12yr
canadian whisky
Crown Royal, Special Reserve
Black Maple Hill Maker's 46 Blantons Knob Creek Woodford Reserve Basil Hayden 8yr Pappy Van Winkle’s 15yr Pappy Van Winkle's 20yr Pappy Van Winkle's 23yr
Jack Daniel’s Honey Gentleman Jack Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel
Rittenhouse Sazerac 6yr Russell's Reserve 6yr Old Potrero, 18th Century Style High West, 21yr
single malts
St George
Yamazaki 12yr
Bushmills, Malt 16
Laphroaig 10yr Lagavulin 16yr Bowmore 25yr
Macallan 12yr Aberlour 16yr Glenfiddich 12yr The Glenlivet 18yr Macallan 18yr Macallan 25yr Macallan 30yr
Glenmorangie 10yr Glenmorangie, Sauternes Cask Oban 14yr Dalwhinnie 15yr
Cockspur, Barbados Clément VSOP, Martinique El Dorado 21, Guyana Clément XO, Martinique
tequila & mezcal
Tequila, Casa Dragones, Joven Tequila, Don Diego Santa, Reposado Tequila, Herradura, Añejo Tequila, Don Julio, Añejo, Claro Tequila, Reserva de la Familia
Cuervo, Extra Añejo Mezcal, Ilegal, Añejo

Photo Credit: Aria

Their website describes the bar area as, "comfortably chic," and it does have a cool vibe, however, my 6'5" husband in no way could have sat on their teeny tiny ottomans (about 6" off the floor).  We all sat on a cushiony bench and were fine, other than it being very very dark, but you adjust. 

Around 7:00PM, we moved on to the main dining room to enjoy our dinner. The dining room is one square room, and it's very bright and light with limited seating.

Photo Credit: Aria

Inside Aria's main dining room:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We were greeted by our waiter quickly.  He was fantastic - very knowledgeable and friendly.  The menu was enticing.  Here's a sample menu:


Twelve Hour Roasted Vidalia Onion Soup

white truffle oil

Thin Sliced Smoked Atlantic Salmon

red onion capers creme fraiche crispy potatoes

Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

georgia strawberries black pepper gastrique

Pan Seared New Bedford Jumbo Sea Scallops

baby spinach slow roasted roma tomato madras curry cilantro and lime

Potato and Goat Cheese Ravioli
wild ramps asparagus sugar snap peas toasted breadcrumbs reggiano parmigiano
Crisped Stuffed Zucchini Blossom
fresh ricotta and mint field peas pickled shallots
Flash Fried Beau Soleil Oysters (five)
whole grain mustard remoulade spicy pickled shallots
Arugula and Endive Salad
great hills blue lemon vinaigrette
Warm Lobster Cocktail
butter braised maine lobster broccoli black truffle potatoes
Crisped Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
green apple walnut napa salad asian mustard sauce
Ruby Red & Golden Beets
sweetgrass dairy goat cheese oranges spiced walnuts
Hammock Hollow Farm Salad Greens
balsamic shallot vinaigrette w/ thyme roasted goat cheese
dining room & wine director ANDRES LOAIZA pastries KATHRYN KING cuisine GERRY KLASKALA
Slow Braised Niman Ranch Berkshire Pork Shoulder
lacinato kale red pepper & white corn succotash crisp vidalia onions
Pan Seared New Bedford Jumbo Sea Scallops
white corn bacon & parmesan risotto
Center Cut Corn Fed Angus Beef Filet Mignon
fingerlings romano beans shiitakes pear tomatoes tarragon shallot sauce
Painted Hills Ranch Natural Beef Short Rib
cipollini shiitake tender carrots truffle whipped potatoes
USDA Prime Steak au Poivre
sixteen ounce prime beef eye of the ribeye cognac green peppercorn sauce steak fried potatoes
Fillet of Line Caught Grouper
roasted cauliflower crispy potatoes fiddlehead ferns hedgehog mushrooms lemon caper brown butter
Pan Roasted Breast of Farm Raised Duck
savoy cabbage carrots fuji apple bacon ginger lemongrass jus
Blue Ridge Mountain Trout
lobster smashed potatoes young squash romanesco pea puree shiitake mushrooms
Herb Crusted Fillet of Florida Red Snapper
white corn lady peas butter beans fingerling potatoes applewood smoked bacon pickled shallots
Slow Braised Colorado Lamb Shank
soft parmesan polenta fava beans roasted vidalia onions ramp chimichurri
Valrhona Chocolate Cream Pie
chocolate sauce soft whipped cream

Vanilla Panna Cotta

peach sorbet almond shortbread

Warm Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

georgia strawberries whipped cream

Chocolate Almond Brioche Pudding

valencia orange ice cream
Blueberry Creme Fraiche Cake
lemon custard buttermilk ice cream
Fresh Sorbets
(one of each, served with meringue) pineapple strawberry lemon peach blueberry
Sweets and Confections
a daily selection
artisan cheese tasting
a daily selection of three

The foccacia bread was very good:

We opted to start with a couple of appetizers - the Flash Fried Beau Soleil Oysters and the Crisp Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms.  Both were delicious!
Photo Credit:  Cate Bogue

Photo Credit:  Cate Bogue

The oysters were just the right size with a mustard remoulade topped with jalapeno peppers - perfect!  

And the ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms were creamy and yummy atop a bed of wonderful heirloom tomatoes and field peas.  So good! 

An image of the menu when we were there:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Our entree choices were Veal Schnitzel (a new menu item-breaded veal cutlet with heirloom tomatoes and an arugula salad with shaved parmesan):

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The veal was good and had a nice flavor, but I've had better.  The breading was a bit heavy for me, and the veal was slightly chewy.  But I loved the tomatoes and salad accompanying the veal.

Short Ribs 
Painted Hills Ranch Natural Beef Short Ribcipollini shiitake tender carrots truffle whipped potatoesPainted Hills Ranch Natural Beef Short Rib

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The short ribs were my husband's choice for dinner, and we were fighting him for a bite.  Every bite was a taste explosion, and the short ribs were tender and not fatty at all.  Loved!

And the filet (Center Cut Corn Fed Angus Beef Filet Mignon
fingerlings romano beans shiitakes pear tomatoes tarragon shallot sauce):

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
My filet was cooked exactly as ordered (medium), and the tarragon shallot sauce was rich and delicious.  I didn't care for the barely cooked red and yellow peppers atop, however the yellow squash was wonderful.

We also enjoyed a bottle of my favorite Malbec (Susanna Balbo) with our dinner:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We decided we HAD to try the Valrhona Chocolate dessert, and it did not disappoint!  Valrhona is a French luxury chocolate from Lyon, France, and it is spectacular.

Valrhona Chocolate Cream Pie

chocolate sauce soft whipped cream

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

I had to show both sides of the dessert, as the three chocolate puddles were the best part! 

All in all it was a great dining experience.  It is definitely pricey, but for a special occasion (such as seeing our daughter off for her Senior year at college), I'd recommend it highly.  The food and service are outstanding!

Enjoying drinks in Aria's lounge before dinner:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Next up:  Antica Posta