I am the resident foodie on this here blog, so every once in awhile I will be bringing you a “Foodie First Look” at restaurants in the A. I am not going to pretend that I am so in the know, that I will be sharing restaurants that are brand new to the scene (my personal preference is to wait until there are a few Yelp reviews out there so I know just what to order), but I do love trying new places – whether they are new to Atlanta or just new to me.
Over Valentine’s Day weekend, Brian and I treated ourselves to a nice dinner out at St. Cecilia (located in the former Bluepointe space). I had been hearing about Ford Fry‘s (of The Optimist, JCT Kitchen and No. 246) latest restaurant for awhile, and went ahead and made a reservation about a week and a half in advance. It opened in early January, and it’s still hard to get a reservation, especially on a weekend night, so plan ahead if you want to try it out.
From the website: “St. Cecilia, the latest restaurant from Atlanta chef-owner Ford Fry, serves coastal European food in Buckhead’s Pinnacle Building. After helping Fry develop a number of other concepts, executive chef Brian Horn has settled down in a kitchen of his own at St. Cecilia. He and his team cook simple and thoughtful dishes that are inspired by the coastlines of Italy, Spain, and France.”
We arrived right on time for our reservation and only had to wait a couple minutes to be seated. The place was buzzing for a Sunday – however no “working girls” if you know what I mean. Apparently the same ladies that used to hangout at Bluepointe have made their way over to the bar at St. Cecilia. (This is what my friends-in-the-know have told me anyways.)
I really LOVE what they’ve done with the place, it is comfy and inviting, yet hip and cool at the same time. Some of the bench seats (where we sat) were a little NYC-eqsue in that we were really close to the people next to us, but it wasn’t the end of the world. They have these amazing wrap-around booths for groups, so ask for one of those if you have 5+ people in your party.
Since I didn’t have work on Monday, I decided to treat myself to a fancy cocktail. (Apologies in advance for the grainy photos – it was dark in there, okay?!)
I didn’t recognize many of the liquors in the specialty cocktails on the menu, so I asked our waitress for some assistance. I told her I loved dirty martini’s and she recommended I try the Evil Ways (Convidado de Baco Brandy de Jerez, Licor 43, Marquez de Poley Oloroso sherry, salt, marcona almond-stuffed olive). I was a little intimidated by the name, but was sold on the marcona almond-stuffed olive! The drink was definitely salty, but I loved it. It probably would have been better paired with some bread, meat and cheese, and not a full meal, but I would definitely get it again at happy hour.
After devouring the warm, salty bread, and based on recommendations from our fabulously-in-the-know-friends Tayloe and Isabel, we went with some items from the crudo menu and pasta menu, and didn’t explore the “after-pasta” menu on this visit. We started with the Cobia (blood orange & pink grapefruit, castelvetrano olive, evoo) from the Crudo menu and the Hearth Roasted Octopus (cured tomato, “Italian” bean salad, oregano) from the Antipasti menu. Both were a.maz.ing. The octopus was grilled to perfection and I LOVE raw bars, so I could have tried one of everything off the crudo menu. They were out of the yellowtail, but I’ve heard it’s delish!
After the raw stuff, we dove into our two pasta dishes and side of black kale. The Capelletti (wild GA shrimp, sea urchin froth, picked herbs) really piqued our interest – I mean sea urchin froth? come on! and it did not disappoint. But the Agnolotti (red wine braised beef short rib, parmigiano) was the true winner. I love a good short rib dish and this is one of the best I’ve ever had. And short rib can be SO heavy, but this was a great portion size so that you won’t have to down pepto like it’s your job later in the evening when the short rib comes back to haunt you. The Cavolo Nero (“black kale,” soft baked farm egg, evoo) was a nice accompaniment to our pasta dishes. We are HUGE kale fans around here, but I have never had “black kale” so I had to try it. Light, but lots of flavor, and who doesn’t love a nice gooey egg on top of, well, anything?! We were too full for dessert or the entrée menu, so we called it a night there.
No onto the not-so-good stuff…the service was soooooo.slowwwww. I mean painfully slow – thank goodness we didn’t have any place to be because the meal took awhile. I’m sure they are still working out the kinks, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to go on a Thurs-Sat. And I’m a lady who gets pretty impatient when it takes awhile for my first drink to come out, so I was less than pleased when we had been seated for a good 15ish minutes before getting our drinks. Don’t even bother trying to order a second drink (we never got our seconds!) and just go with a bottle of wine from the start – that way it’s at the table and you don’t have to rely on the waitress.
#PeachtreeRoadiesApproved? Yes! The food is excellent and probably one of the best all-around meals I’ve had in AWHILE! I love that they offer an array of raw dishes along with perfectly portioned pastas – two of my favorite things in life. But, I may wait a few more weeks to go back until they have worked out their service issues! Bonus points for blue mason jars in the bathrooms, too! Meg would be so proud 🙂