Winslade partnered with restaurateur and hospitality attorney Jonathan Akly on the concept, which is located inside the new Three Alliance Center building on Lenox Road near Phipps Plaza.
The 5,000-square-foot space was designed and built by Akly’s father, Tony Akly of Restaurants Consulting Group, who created a sleek, contemporary atmosphere that merges airy indoor and outdoor dining areas and a sprawling lounge and bar. Natural elements include a living moss wall and two ficus trees surrounding the eight-seat chef’s counter and open kitchen.
Winslade’s seasonal lunch and dinner menu is billed as “contemporary American and West Coast cuisine.” That translates to light, bright starters such as pickled oysters, marinated fish, and a shredded local kale salad, plus pizza, pasta, and entrees like oven-roasted steelhead trout with pea-scented rice grits and asparagus.
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In January, Winslade left his executive chef position at Murphy’s in Virginia-Highland after more than six years. Over the years, he’d also been involved in the opening of two more Murphy’s-related restaurants, Paces & Vine in Vinings, and Morningside Kitchen in Morningside.
Last week, Winslade sat down on the patio at Mission + Market to talk about the transition to finally opening his own restaurant.
“It was time to reinvent myself,” Winslade said. “It was time to rediscover who I really was as a chef, and what I felt like was the way I could move myself forward. I felt like I was kind of losing my way. I’d worked for people whose opinions swayed my decisions in certain ways.
“Coming back to Buckhead, where I’d worked at Bluepointe up the street, and had lot of fun, and then opening this place, which is ultra-modern and brand-new, there’s this possibility of rewriting the story, so to speak. I still want it to be a very approachable restaurant that people see as a neighborhood addition. But I wanted to update the food I was making, and just have fun with it, again.”
Though Winslade’s resume includes an early stint at New York’s Le Bernardin, and later work at Atlanta’s Spice Market and Market by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Mission + Market is by far the restaurant he’s been most involved in from a creative standpoint.
“I have the ability to do what I want to do,” he said. “There’s been no limits in my ideas, and everyone has been receptive to everything. We spent a lot of time designing this restaurant. It was a really fascinating journey. The open kitchen forces me to interact with the guests and be more open and step out.”
And that openness extends to the direction of the food, as well, Winslade said.
“With regard to the menu, I wanted to make sure we were relevant,” he said. “I also wanted to resonate the style of food that I really like to cook. I think that speaks a lot to the West Coast. And it speaks to America. We have this fantastic melting pot of cultures and cuisines here.
“I wanted to bring some of that into the restaurant with a contemporary American feel. It’s really about serving beautiful, fresh, bright-flavored food. It’s stuff that I like to eat. Fish and grains and vegetables, things that are healthy are what people want now, because restaurants have sort of replaced people’s kitchens.”
One of the dishes that epitomizes that approach is American red snapper with a yuzu citrus emulsion and Fresno chiles.
“The snapper is a smash-hit favorite with the people, and yuzu has always been a favorite of mine to use,” Winslade said. “I love the combination of yuzu and olive oil, with thin, sushi-grade snapper, the chiles to give a little pop of spice, and a little basil to sweeten it up.
“The other one is the Albacore Chu Toro, which is the belly, and it makes an amazing crudo. We slice it and serve it with a sesame soy elusion and some lime. It’s another great raw dish that people love.”
Looking ahead, Winslade said he believes the best is yet to come.
“This is an interesting business,” he said, and laughed. “It has its twists and turns. I think it tempers you with time, but by the same token, when your soul is restored by being able to make what you want to make, you suddenly feel very fulfilled again. And I think this restaurant can really mature and develop into a beautiful place. I feel really grateful to be here. ”
Three Alliance Center, 3550 Lenox Road NE, Atlanta. 404-948-2927, missionandmarketatl.com.
More images from a First Look at Mission + Market