Look for the drink-friendly food such as Southern oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp, pimento cheese with buttermilk crackers and crudites, and jumbo lump crab mayonnaise.
Club sandwiches include a better than basic tomato on white bread and a more exotic steak tartare. Entree-size items range from rabbit and dumplings and buttermilk fried quail with rice and gravy to a cast-iron chopped steak topped with a crispy egg.
The on-site executive chef is Ann Kim, a California native who recently moved to Atlanta, and quickly learned about Southern foodways.
“I was born and raised in California and just decided I wanted to move here and experience living on the other side of the country,” Kim said during an interview last week. “I love Southern food. It’s great. It has so much tradition and I’m just really excited to be part of this whole project.
“The menu is all food that people are really familiar with, but then we’re presenting it a little differently with some new twists. Chef Mike Lata designed the menu, but we did a lot of the research and development together. Garden & Gun had the concept and he was brought in to work on it at the beginning of last year. But he’s worked with Garden & Gun a lot in Charleston, too.”
Kim said the raw bar section of the menu was one of the things that stood out as different from California cuisine.
“I was familiar with a raw bar but not as intensely as it is here,” she said. “And this one is a little bit different because we’re focusing on all things from the South, including farm-raised oysters coming from Florida and the Carolinas. We’re getting jumbo lump crab from Alabama and blue crab claws from Alabama, as well.”
Another part of the menu that Kim said has proved to be surprisingly popular is a selection of seven sandwiches.
“They’re basically tea sandwiches, but elevated and amped-up,” she said. “And, honestly, I think it’s going to be like the new toast. Everyone’s doing the toast. But we’re going to bring back the sandwiches. We’re getting our bread fresh every morning from the General Muir bakery, and that’s really the key.
“If you think of a tomato sandwich, you just think of tomatoes and mayonnaise, right? But we put fleur de sel, fresh cracked pepper, olive oil, chopped shallots, picked thyme and sliced chives on there, and it’s really, really good. It’s like the best tomato sandwich you’ll ever have.”
Of course, the beverage program is crucial to the concept, too, with a big selection of bourbon and rye, plus Amari and Alpine botanicals, and Southern craft beer. Salena Venable, who recently ran the wine program at Staplehouse, is the beverage manager.
The bar menu features both classic cocktails, such as the Proper Old-Fashioned, and originals, many of which are named for R.E.M. songs. For instance, the Pretty Persuasion is a bright, martini-meets-daiquiri mix of gin, ginger, Aperol, Dimmi and lime.
“I’m a big fan of getting people to try something new,” Venable said. “But I’m also a realist and I know there are limitations to that. It’s finding the balance between creating cocktails, and hospitality being hospitality, so having things everybody wants and might enjoy.”
2605 Circle 75 Parkway, Suite 410, Atlanta. 770-726-0925, gardenandgunclub.com.
More images from a First Look at Garden & Gun Club at The Battery Atlanta
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