At 5 p.m. Thursday, restaurateur Justin Anthony and the team behind the South African hospitality group True Story Brands (10 Degrees South, Yebo Beach Haus, Cape Dutch) will open a second location of Biltong Bar in the Shops Buckhead Atlanta.
The first Biltong Bar "beef jerky and booze" concept opened in Ponce City Market in early 2016, introducing a rare taste of naturally cured, air-dried South African-style beef jerky (biltong) — plus selections of cheese and charcuterie, salads and sandwiches, with international beers, South African wines and signature cocktails.
In its newest iteration, Biltong took over the sizable 6,500-square-foot Buckhead Avenue space that was originally occupied by American Food and Beverage.
Anthony’s wife, interior designer Kelly Wolf-Anthony of Wolf Design Group, tackled the build-out, which includes a 40-seat bar that stretches along the entire length of one side of the restaurant.
Accented with dark wood and leather, the dining area features varied seating schemes, including spacious booths and a library-like lounge with backgammon and other board games.
Along with the much larger footprint, the menu has been greatly expanded under the direction of executive chef Matt Weinstein, who was most recently the executive chef at One Midtown Kitchen.
Beyond South African dishes, Weinstein incorporates Indian, French and Malaysian influences, and local and seasonal ingredients.
Look for starters and snacks such as cauliflower shawarma, tandoori chicken wings, and a baby beets salad. Among the larger portions, there’s the mushroom, bacon and cheese BB Burger, tagliatelle with butternut squash curry and mussels, and a hefty pork shank with foie gras dirty rice and Brussels sprouts.
Beverage director Sean Gleason is in charge of the restaurant’s evolving cocktail program, putting together new drinks for the new location using seasonal ingredients with a greater range of spirits and gadgets behind the bar.
Last week, I sat down at Biltong Bar in Buckhead with Anthony, Weinstein and Gleason to talk about the new location.
“The first Biltong Bar in Ponce City Market was really the first of its kind anywhere in the world,” Anthony said. “Nothing like this had been done before. And when we decided to create a restaurant concept around biltong, we decided we had to have a craft cocktail program to match it. Ponce City Market has been really successful for us, and it’s been a great way for us to access people in Atlanta.
“Then I started getting calls from Nashville, New York, Denver, San Diego about doing this concept in other cities. I said I want to do more, but the next one has to be in Atlanta. Because our very first restaurant was in Buckhead, I said let’s do it here. And with this much bigger space, I said let’s do beef jerky and booze in a much bigger way.”
Gleason, who first headed up the Biltong beverage program at Ponce City Market, was all about going bigger.
“We’ve certainly expanded on the beverage program here,” Gleason said. “Our major limitation at Ponce City Market was the small space. Here I have more toys to play with, and if you give me toys, I use them. So more techniques and a larger menu overall, and we’ll be playing around with draft cocktails, with our own takes on classic highballs.
“As far as the wine list, we’re trying to focus on smaller producers and biodynamic or organic wines, with some more esoteric varietals. I’m pretty sure there’s not going be a list in Buckhead that’s anything like it.”
Over the years, Weinstein and Anthony had talked about working together, but Biltong in Buckhead turned out to be the restaurant that finally brought them together.
“Justin had the space, we did the walk-though, I saw the kitchen, and I was like, ‘Yeah,’” Weinstein said. “The kitchen is amazing, I really believe in the concept, and I think my style of cooking fits this brand. I like international flavors, and if you look at South African cuisine as a whole, it’s influenced from all kinds of places and things I like.
“The menu is always going to be a work in progress. We’re always going to push to make it better, obviously, and work with the seasons, and what’s local and around. We will be doing specials to test the waters, and see what we can get away with here. I’ve never worked in Buckhead, so it’s all new to me.”
306 Buckhead Ave., Atlanta. 678-927-9272, biltong-bar.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Biltong Bar Buckhead
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