In 2015, Atlas was the subject of a celebratory three-star review by then-AJC dining critic John Kessler , soon after it replaced Paces 88, the debut restaurant at the St. Regis hotel in Buckhead.
Two years later, Atlas can already be counted among Atlanta’s top fine dining destinations, thanks to an elegant dining room, with a rare collection of 20th-century artwork, and the creative talents of executive chef Christopher Grossman and his team.
Now, though, the new Tavern at Atlas offers another way to enjoy Grossman’s cuisine, in a more casual setting, with a menu of small plates made to go with drinks.
Essentially a reimagining and reconfiguring of the lounge and library areas at the entrance to Atlas, the Tavern features a collection of comfy chairs, banquettes and tables surrounding the semicircular bar. Adding to the atmosphere, there’s live music several nights a week, and a separate patio for warm weather dining.
Last week, Grossman and general manager Geno Dew showed guests around the space and talked about the new menu.
“We saw an opportunity to attract some guests that might have had Atlas on their radar and were thinking of it as a special occasion place for a birthday or anniversary,” Dew said. “We certainly are the perfect venue for that. But we also wanted to bring in more people who might just want a drink and a light bite.
“We have residents here. And we love our neighborhood folks. They like to pop in and have a drink and an appetizer. But the seating wasn’t well designed for that, and we recognized that. We put in all new furniture with oversized chairs and tables that can be grouped more easily. So we’re seeing a lot more bodies in our Tavern than we had in this space before.”
As to creating the new menu for the Tavern, Grossman said it had been “a little crazy but a lot of fun.”
“We’re just trying to increase the approachability, and ease people into what we’re doing in the dining room,” he said. “The idea is come in and have a couple of bites and get a glimpse of our food. We tried to cover the broad spectrum in this menu, to get a little bit of something for everyone.
“We have a couple of vegetable dishes with the beet salad tartare and beet chips and the sauteed snow peas. If you want something a little heartier, you can go with the cast iron seared Wagyu steak. But the dishes were designed to be shared, so you can come in with a few people and try a lot of different things and a lot of different flavors. That’s really the idea behind the entire menu.”
Grossman also noted that there was a synergy between the main dining room menu and the Tavern menu.
“A lot of this is stuff we’d just been kind of playing with, and we didn’t have an outlet for it in the dining room,” he said. “But I think we’re just getting started here. And I think we’re going to find out in the next few months what works and what are the big hits. We’re rocking and rolling now.”
Overall, Dew wanted to point out that while the Tavern is bringing some energy to the hotel restaurant’s operation, Atlas would remain an Atlanta fine dining staple.
“The pillars of what make this restaurant so special are still there,” Dew said. “We have the best wine program in the region. And I don’t know of any other dining room outside of New York or Las Vegas where you can sit under a Picasso and enjoy a seven-course meal. But the Tavern is just an exciting way to bring in more people on a regular basis to enjoy the quality of the food here.”
88 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W., Atlanta. 404-600-6471, atlasrestaurant.com.
More images from a First Look at the Tavern at Atlas in Buckhead.