In June 2018, when owners Billy and Kristin Allin closed their long-running Decatur Square restaurant, Cakes & Ale, both regulars and dining critics mourned the loss of a beloved destination.
A little over a year later, though, two new adjoining restaurants from chef Terry Koval, the Deer and the Dove and B-Side, opened in the Cakes & Ale space, bringing together a team of Atlanta culinary veterans.
Like the Allins, Koval has long been a leading exponent of sourcing ingredients from local farms and purveyors. Early on, he served as executive sous chef at Canoe in Vinings, and later on, he was the opening chef at Farm Burger in Decatur.
But it was Koval’s seasonal menu at Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Inman Park (where he’s still a partner and the executive chef) that truly showcased his love of primal proteins and Georgia seafood and vegetables.
Partnering with his wife, Jenn Koval, and George Frangos, an Atlanta restaurateur and partner and co-owner of Farm Burger, Koval’s direction for the Deer and the Dove is described as “rustic, creative New American cuisine.” Notably, many dishes are prepared using the kitchen’s wood-burning oven and open hearth.
Look for a locavore lineup that includes the Vegetables From Our Friends plate, with raw, poached and roasted vegetables, and the Cheese From Our Friends plate, with local cheese, house-baked bread, and baby lettuce.
Other small and shared plates, such as Tartare with Comfort Farm Aged Dairy Cow Beef, soft boiled gribiche, focaccia, and olive oil, and Giardiniera with leaves and broccoli, and Sam’s slow cooked egg, join full plates such as Whole Wood Roasted Bramlett Farm Trout with broccoli florets, green coriander cream, sweetbreads and nasturtium powder.
Wine director Kristina Ferdinand and beverage director Jason Kemp present a list of bargain-priced “thoughtful” house wines by the glass or bottle, plus selections of international wines, cocktails with local spirits, craft beer and cider.
Pastry chef Miranda Vick, who’s worked at Empire State South, the General Muir and Root Baking Co., dreams up desserts like Dove Tarte au Chocolat, while taking charge of the menu at B-Side, where “bodega-style” breakfast and lunch sandwiches, wood-fired bagels, salads and soups are on the quick-service cafe menu.
Luke Wilkinson from Local Architects and Brian Buckner designed the two restaurants, opening up the Deer and the Dove side to create a more casual, modern and minimalist feel, while keeping the former Cakes & Ale bar largely intact.
Last week, Koval and Frangos sat down at the bar at the Deer and the Dove to talk about the food and the philosophy behind their new joint venture.
“Really the concept is what’s been Terry’s passion in cooking since I’ve known him before Farm Burger,” Frangos said. “I’ve seen him grow as someone who really jumped into the whole farm-to-table movement, and really does believe it and own it in every bit of the menu.
“But we certainly wanted to have a community restaurant that wasn’t fine dining and took from what Terry had been doing at Wrecking Bar, and maybe elevating it a little bit. And opening up the space was a big thing for us, because we wanted to move the energy away from the bar and extend it into the entire restaurant.”
Describing the inspiration for the menu, Koval said a lot of it was about his love for cooking over live fire.
“Over the past seven years, I’ve been cooking outside a lot,” he said. “Cooking stuff over fire, hanging stuff over fire, cooking with a Big Green Egg, so when I saw the wood-burning oven here, that was it. It’s always been a dream to have a hearth in a kitchen, and bring that outside cooking inside.”
As for the spirit of the Deer and the Dove, Koval echoed Frangos’ thought that it’s all about community.
“Jenn came up with the name,” Koval said. “She named it after our spirit animals. I’m the Deer, and she’s the Dove. We live four minutes down the street from the restaurant. This is my neighborhood. It’s where we’ve lived for the past 12 years. I opened Farm Burger here. Both my kids went to St. Thomas More school here. So it’s great to be in your community. This is the American dream. This is every chef’s dream.
“The vibe we want is high energy. It’s a neighborhood restaurant. This corner is like the front door of Decatur, so we’re just really happy to bring some new life to it. And we have some big shoes to fill. I loved Cakes & Ale. But we’re going to have some fun, cook some good food, be creative, and not take it too seriously. This is not fine dining. We have a kids menu.”
155 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-748-4617, deerdove.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First look at the Deer and the Dove in Decatur
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