Located in the Healey Building on Forsyth Street in the Fairlie-Poplar district of Atlanta, the new concept from culinary director and owner Brady Lowe is billed as highlighting “North America’s diverse sandwich culture.”
Lowe, who grew up in Iowa, is a longtime resident of the Healey Building and the founder of Taste Network, Piggy Bank, Peachfest, and Cochon555, dubbed “North America’s most talked about culinary competition.”
The Pantry was originally conceived for Super Bowl LIII, when Lowe curated a series of pop-up events and celebrity chef cooking demonstrations in the soaring rotunda space that adjoins the restaurant’s corner space.
The contemporary counter service design takes advantage of the building’s abundant natural light and features subway tile, maple cutting boards from John Boos & Co., a miscellany of products for sale, and a library of cookbooks.
Named for the restaurant’s chef’s pantry, the current menu is surprisingly extensive, with breakfast, lunch, late afternoon “industry,” and vegan offerings, as well as house-made dips and meal kits to-go. But iconic sandwiches from different parts of the U.S. are at the heart of what Lowe and his team are dedicated to presenting.
That means you’ll find a fully loaded Chicago Dog; a hefty New Orleans Muffaletta; a Miami Cuban; and a Los Angeles-style Eggslut breakfast sandwich. And as Lowe likes to point out, Atlanta is home to the Club Sandwich, which he says was first noted in The Atlanta Constitution in 1897, and is celebrated on his menu as Durand’s Coogler Club.
But there are more exotic “originals” too, like the Dan Dan Banh Mi with Sichuan chili beef, and the “animal-style” Poplar Pocket sandwich, stacked with mortadella, loose beef, pickles, cheese, onions, “unicorn sauce,” tomato, celery salt, and Lay’s potato chips.
The Pantry’s drinks include house-made green juice and a selection of nondairy cold-brew mocktails. The popular “Chunky Monkey” is a cold brew steeped with cocoa nibs and banana chips and finished with Elmhurst’s cashew milk.
Last week, Lowe sat down at a table in the rotunda to talk about the Pantry, while he sampled a recent batch of mocktails.
“I’ve lived in the building since 2002, and this used to be a place called Loaf & Kettle, and there was a line out the door every day,” Lowe said. “It was just two guys doing healthy options downtown. When they went out of business, the space sat empty for 10 years. I’d always wanted to put a sandwich shop back here. And living here, I always wanted a little grocery store.
“That’s why we made it kind of like a bodega, so everything we cooked with we could sell. It’s kind of like everything I wanted to have in my building as an amenity. And then Super Bowl came around, and there was an opportunity to build a restaurant, take care of a bunch of clients who were coming to town, and then open the Pantry and do something for the Atlanta community.”
Asked about the design and execution of the menu, Lowe said one half is about “tributes” to regional favorites and the other half is about riffing with a wide range of ingredients.
“It’s about finding the ingredients that make up that experience, and I’m trying to take people on a little journey to those sandwiches,” he said. “I want a Chicago Dog, and I want it to be amazing. The Grinder, for example, is a very Midwest, Iowa thing, and I basically just want to tell the story through a sandwich. So that’s half the menu.
“The other half is a study in abominations of culinary inspiration. The Dan Dan is about taking it from the noodles and then making a Banh Mi. I make my Sloppy Joe with the Dan Dan Sichuan peppercorn sauce and make a sandwich with it. So we want to contribute to mankind by making new and delicious sandwiches.”
Asked about sourcing ingredients, Lowe said, “Simple is better.”
“We’re not a scratch kitchen. We’re a source kitchen,” he said. “And to be sustainable, we’re trying to get everything to make sense as far as where we’re getting it, and who we can support. We’re supporting the artisans and the producers. We get their support and we want to support them. Everything is grass-fed, no antibiotics, and most of the things that you see are also available vegan. So we’re trying to be as inclusive as possible, and as creative as possible.”
57 Forsyth St. NW, Atlanta. 404-939-7059, thepantryatl.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Pantry & Provisions in downtown Atlanta
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