When F&H Food Trading Group co-owners Hicham Azhari and Fikret Kovac opened Little Alley Steak on Canton Street in Roswell in early 2012, they described it as “a relaxed, late-1800s-inspired all-American steakhouse.”
On Memorial Day, Azhari and Kovac debuted a second Little Alley Steak at One Alliance Center on Lenox Road in Buckhead , and they call it “a steakhouse for the modern era.”
The duo’s F&H Food Trading Group also includes Roswell, Alpharetta and Woodstock locations of their casual, “globally inspired” Salt Factory Pub.
But the Buckhead Little Alley is by far the most ambitious restaurant Azhari and Kovac have undertaken, so far. And it’s clearly pitched to an area of Atlanta that’s always been home to upscale concepts, often signified by beef, booze and clubby atmosphere — even if celebrity chefs haven’t fared so well there. Ask Emeril Lagasse or Tom Colicchio.
Interestingly, Little Alley is in the former Emeril’s space, though it’s been lavishly renovated and redecorated to reflect the “butcher-to-table” business at hand.
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Squares of butcher block backed by smoked glass line the walls. Heavy-duty lighting fixtures fashioned from meat hooks hang overhead, and cleavers and other tools of the trade are variously on display.
There’s a floor-to-ceiling wine room, plus a smaller wine cellar, and several spots to order drinks, including more than 425 whiskeys, some 75 wines by the glass, and assorted house cocktails.
The sprawling main floor bar features cozy cafe tables and a small stage for live music six nights a week. Upstairs, the private dining room includes a smaller service bar. And outside, across from the front door, a glass-enclosed, cabana-style party bar is flanked by a pair of patios.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the sprawling steakhouse menu, which ranges from charcuterie, cheese, appetizers and salads to chilled shellfish and seafood entrees, as well as the likes of an American Kobe burger and Springer Mountain roasted chicken.
Of course, steak is the mainstay. And Azhari and Kovac, who have always proudly sourced wet-aged, dry-aged and prime beef from the historic Chicago butcher Meats by Linz, can now boast of partnering with the company to acquire their own herd of certified Angus Beef cattle.
Recently, Azhari and F&H culinary director Tony Manns were at Little Alley Buckhead, where they talked about the new steakhouse and the quality of the steaks.
“Everything here was custom and locally handmade,” Azhari said. “We decided to make our own butcher blocks and build the design around that. And then we used metal and concrete to give the feel of a restaurant that’s been here for a long time.”
Speaking to the partnership with Meats by Linz, Manns explained how it was key to making the menu distinctive.
“I’ve worked at many steakhouses and with many steak purveyors, but they do everything the way we want it,” Manns said. “If I want a steak that’s 3 inches thick and aged a hundred days, they’ll do that for me. And their genetic program is awesome.
“Only four restaurants in the whole United States have 100 percent Black Angus beef like we do. We have 15 different cuts. We do traditional wet-aged steaks of the highest grade. We have USDA Prime, and we do dry-aged steaks. I define this as a true American steakhouse. We do old school and modern put together, so we’re doing it all.”
Summing up the move to Buckhead, Azhari allowed that Little Alley had grown bigger, at triple the size of Roswell, but the core of the concept remained the same.
“Little Alley was born five years ago in Roswell,” he said. “Now both restaurants are my babies, so I couldn’t pick one over the other. The food and the wine is the same. But this one just has so many more details. It’s like the original Little Alley but grandioso. Every spot you look at, there’s something different, and we’re making a statement with that.
“In this business, you have to challenge yourself, and outdo yourself; otherwise, you’re going to be left behind. That’s something we believe in. Our mission statement is one word, literally. It’s excellence. And it’s excellence in everything we do.”
3500 Lenox Road NE, No. 100, Atlanta. 404-254-1899, littlealleysteak.com.
More images from a First Look at Little Alley Steak in Buckhead