First Look: Bold Monk a place to relax and enjoy Belgian-inspired beer and food

Appetizers at the Bold Monk, including (clockwise from top): Bitterballen, mezze and steak tartare. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Appetizers at the Bold Monk, including (clockwise from top): Bitterballen, mezze and steak tartare. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

After an extensive build-out, Bold Monk Brewing opened in early December at the Complex mixed-use development on the corner of Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard and Chattahoochee Avenue in Atlanta's Upper Westside.

Perhaps the most ambitious example of the current brewery boom, the project from the Brewed to Serve Restaurant Group (Max Lager’s; White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails; Richards’ Southern Fried) cost close to $6 million to complete.

With design and architecture from ASD Sky, and aesthetics by Atlanta’s Smith Hanes Studio, the atmosphere of the Old World-inspired brewery restaurant is meant to rival any of Atlanta’s best contemporary dining destinations.

The art-filled "Salon" Bold Monk Brewing Co. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
The art-filled "Salon" Bold Monk Brewing Co. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Beyond the three-vessel, 15-barrel brewhouse, the sprawling former warehouse space features a series of art-filled rooms that cover two stories and capture different moods. The main bar boasts 32 taps, fed from above by cutting-edge, Euro-style horizontal serving tanks. The open kitchen employs a wood-fired grill and a custom-made Neapolitan pizza oven, and is surrounded by the lively “Salon” and more intimate “Beer Cellar” dining areas.

Up a flight of stairs, the vaulted “Library Loft” includes a retail bookstore, with a coffee program, and another 32-tap bar. Seating is around settings of couches, with coffee tables, and plugs so you can hook up your computer and hang out. And soon you’ll be able to walk outside and into a beer garden with seating under the trees.

Brewmaster and managing partner John “JR” Roberts is the award-winning co-founder of Max Lager’s in downtown Atlanta, the oldest brewpub in Georgia. Bold Monk is the longtime dream of Roberts and his Brewed to Serve business partners, Cindy and Alan LeBlanc.

With help from Neal Engleman, formerly the brewer at the Wrecking Bar, Roberts is creating a core of Belgian-style beers for Bold Monk, including a dubbel, tripel and quadrupel, and a take on an Orval-style Belgian pale ale.

But look for new IPAs, a big Russian imperial stout, and guest beers, too. Plus, the full bar is offering cocktails on tap, and a selection of Old World wines from beer-producing regions in France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Germany.

Up a flight of stairs, the vaulted “Library Loft” includes a retail bookstore. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Up a flight of stairs, the vaulted “Library Loft” includes a retail bookstore. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Jason Hall (the Georgian Terrace; Hampton & Hudson) recently returned from a sojourn in Los Angeles (Scratch Bar & Kitchen; Fundamental) to take over the kitchen at Bold Monk.

Hall’s Belgian-influenced menu offers steak frites and five different variations on mussels — but there’s also a mezze plate, meatballs with grits, pizza topped with Thai chile sausage and peanut sauce, and Flounder a la Meuniere with roasted winter squash, coal-roasted cabbage, brown butter, and capers.

Last week, Roberts and the LeBlancs sat down in the Library Loft to talk about opening Bold Monk.

“It’s more of a lifestyle idea here,” Cindy LeBlanc said. “We’re hopeful that people will see this as a place to go to have a coffee, and do a meeting, or write a report. Also, there’s a whole group of people who will just want to come here to eat, and drink a little, too.”

“We wanted to create a place for everybody, and we mean everybody,” Alan LeBlanc said. “You see it in the space. It’s a place for people to be comfortable. As a company, the three pillars are that it needs to be fun, interesting and sustainable. We’ve been in the brewing business now for almost 25 years, so first and foremost we wanted to create a project that leverages all that JR has contributed to the brewing industry in Georgia and here in Atlanta. We wanted to give him the tools to go to the next level.

“We’re committed to the brewpub model. We feel it gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of brewing creativity, and the total experiences of creating a culture around beer. This whole concept of the Bold Monk Brewing Co. is about that. Really, we want to create a place where people can find joy. Therefore, we invested in a space that reflects that.”

Bold Monk owners (L-R) Cindy LeBlanc, John 'JR' Roberts, and Alan LeBlanc. Contributed by Henri Hollis.
Bold Monk owners (L-R) Cindy LeBlanc, John 'JR' Roberts, and Alan LeBlanc. Contributed by Henri Hollis.

Talking about the beer, and what’s to come, Roberts said Bold Monk offered him an opportunity to reimagine things.

“There are very few styles I haven’t brewed at this point in my life,” he said. “But there are some styles I like brewing more than others, and I’d like to focus on some of those a little bit more. Just to put a new spin on things here is exciting.

“Ultimately, we’re going to be more of a Belgian-inspired brewery. There are some beers that will be dead-on to style, and are some that won’t be. The foeder and barrel program has been in the works for a long time, starting at Max Lager’s. But this place is more than a brewery. It’s more than a restaurant. It’s a gathering place. It’s a place to come and relax and enjoy yourself.”

1737 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd. NW, Building D, Atlanta. 404-390-3288, boldmonkbrewingco.com.

Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Bold Monk Brewing in Upper Westside

Leche de Tigre mussels with sweet potato-cumin mousse, cilantro and radish. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Leche de Tigre mussels with sweet potato-cumin mousse, cilantro and radish. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Steak tartare with avocado, shallot, radish and black garlic brioche. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Steak tartare with avocado, shallot, radish and black garlic brioche. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

A pizza topped with Thai chile sausage, peanut sauce, pickled peppers and cilantro  with a house-brewed beer. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
A pizza topped with Thai chile sausage, peanut sauce, pickled peppers and cilantro with a house-brewed beer. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Flounder a la Meuniere with roasted winter squash, coal roasted cabbage, brown butter, capers and parsley. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Flounder a la Meuniere with roasted winter squash, coal roasted cabbage, brown butter, capers and parsley. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Bitterballen with smoked brisket, apple mostarda and beet sabayon. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Bitterballen with smoked brisket, apple mostarda and beet sabayon. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Double Chocolate S'Mores with dark chocolate mousse, caramelized white chocolate mousse, orange-infused honey marshmallow, house beer fudge and house graham crackers. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Double Chocolate S'Mores with dark chocolate mousse, caramelized white chocolate mousse, orange-infused honey marshmallow, house beer fudge and house graham crackers. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

The How Many Licks cocktail at Bold Monk. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
The How Many Licks cocktail at Bold Monk. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

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