Atlanta Restaurant Scene

First Look: South City Kitchen Buckhead drives the evolution of Southern cooking

South City Kitchen Buckhead officially opened last week on the first floor of the 3350 Peachtree building in Buckhead, joining Fifth Group sister restaurants South City Kitchen Midtown and South City Kitchen Vinings.

Jason Starnes, previously of the Sun Dial , is in the kitchen as the executive chef, blending long-running South City favorites with chef-driven seasonal dishes created exclusively for the Buckhead location.

Last week, in the midst of the pre-opening rush, Fifth Group partner Robby Kukler, food and beverage director Vajra Stratigos, and executive pastry chef Eric Wolitzky joined Starnes to preview the Buckhead menu and build-out.

The space, which extends from the 3350 Peachtree building’s lobby, was created in a collaboration between Fifth Group and John Barton of Parkway Properties. The multilevel design features an assortment of intimate dining areas, including a central bar, a soaring mezzanine, and a series of terraced outdoor patios facing Peachtree Street.

“South City Kitchen is 23 years old in Midtown and 10 years old in Vinings, so we thought about what is South City Kitchen, and how has it evolved over the years in terms of what is Southern cooking now,” Kukler said. “We’ve always said South City is authentic but it has some modern flair.

“It’s also about Southern hospitality. We thought, especially in this big, high-rise glass building, that it was very important to bring some warmth and a homey feel that ties into that. And like in a home, you can experience different things in different rooms.”

One major design element that plays to the notion of homey is an open dessert kitchen and bakery with an exclusive selection of cakes, pies and other goodies prominently on display.

“We really wanted to drive the Southern dessert element here,” Stratigos said. “We wanted to say it’s time to reinvigorate what Southern Americana desserts are all about, and do them in a 21st-century way, and elevate them in a program built around pies and cakes.”

The main menu has been formatted to emphasize both South City specialties, such as Springer Mountain fried chicken and shrimp and Red Mule grits, as well as seasonal items.

“These are the things that people remember and talk about,” Stratigos said. “So these are the things we want to make sure we honor, because they’re the things that got us to where we are today.

“But our focus going forward, for obvious reasons, is that we’re going to continually evolve and focus more on portions of the menu called Southern Plates and First Flavors that are going to be changing seasonally. That translates to an ultimate goal of lightness and freshness with more vegetables and things that are more in tune with what people are eating now.”

Some of those same ideas translate to the beverage menu Stratigos designed, though there are a good number of reserve and high-end selections on the whiskey and wine lists. And the new wrinkle is a barrel program that features the likes of High West rye rested in a Stuhlmuller zinfandel barrel.

“That’s really us saying, ‘Hey, we know a lot of wineries personally and we know a lot of whiskey distilleries personally, and we’re going to bring them together and have these barrel release parties.’ It’s going to be pretty cool.”

3350 Peachtree Road. 404-815-6677,

More images from a First Look at South City Kitchen Buckhead, which is open today.

Roasted Asparagus, French Horn mushrooms, leeks, forest ash butter.(BECKY STEIN PHOTOGRAPHY)
2016. Beef and Mushroom Meatloaf with roasted cauliflower puree, Awiss chard, roasted mushroom jus. (BECKY STEIN PHOTOGRAPHY)
Rabbit Schnitzel with beet spatzle , asparagus, cippolini gravy. (BECKY STEIN PHOTOGRAPHY)
Chocolate Caramel Angel Pie from the South City Kitchen bake shop. (BECKY STEIN PHOTOGRAPHY)
Sour Dough Beignets with pecan pie filling, bourbon anglaise. (BECKY STEIN PHOTOGRAPHY)


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