Atlanta Restaurant Scene

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Zeb Stevenson, formerly of Watershed, to open Redbird in West Midtown

Will be joined by former Watershed owner Ross Jones

When Watershed changed hands in April, chef Zeb Stevenson and co-owner Ross Jones promised they’d be returning soon with a new concept. 

Now, the pair are sharing details on their forthcoming West Midtown restaurant Redbird, set to open as early as June 2019. 

The eatery, which will be located in the Westside Provisions District in the space previously occupied by Bacchanalia, “will be fun, lively and comfortable with a ‘come as you are’ sensibility.”

Stevenson, who describes Redbird’s food as “free spirited cuisine,” will feature a frequently changing menu that “will highlight local and seasonal ingredients with a touch of international flare.” 

He said that he plans to focus on “level of care and attention to detail,” with a shift away from “fancy and goofy modernist techniques.” “I want to get back to traditional cooking, get in touch with the food, use all our senses, our intuition,” he said.

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He will also allow customers to get a front row to his cooking with an eight-seat kitchen counter. The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

The bar will feature a full selection of cocktails, beers and wine. The wine list will focus on family-owned and small artisan wineries. 

Stevenson stated that he and Jones settled on the space after nearly a year and a half hunt. “We wanted something intimate,” Stevenson said. “We wanted a space that was really no more than 3,500 square feet. This is 3,200 square feet. It’s perfect.”

Designed by Smith Hanes, the same firm that designed Watershed on Peachtree, the space will include 80 seats in the main dining room, 15 seats at the bar and 40 in the courtyard terrace, in addition to the eight kitchen counter seats.

That kitchen counter will be just steps from the front entrance, which Stevenson said would enable him to better interact with guests as they enter the restaurant.

“If you ever dined at Bacchanalia, there is no way you will be able to walk into the space and not feel that footprint,” Stevenson said. “But we are opening this thing up.” Removing curtain partitions and moving the bar to provide a view of the Midtown skyline are just a few of the design changes that he hopes will create “a sense of openness and liveliness.”

“It is inevitable that it will draw comparisons (to Bacchanalia), but we are not opening the next Bacchanalia. We are opening something far, far different,” he said, adding, “There is some good juju in the building. Something wonderful happened there. That is a nice thing to piggyback off of.”

The restaurant’s name, too, holds a bit of good juju. The cardinal “symbolizes passion, vibrancy and guardianship,” Stevenson said. He and Jones both had personal moments with a redbird in the same week. “We looked at each other like we’d experienced something a little strange,” he summed.   

Emily Saliers, one half of Atlanta folk duo Indigo Girls who co-owned Watershed with Jones, said she won’t be involved as an owner at Redbird due to a busy schedule but said she is “truly excited” for Jones and Stevenson “as they create what promises to be a truly remarkable restaurant.”

Stevenson, a Food Network “Chopped” champion, worked at several Atlanta restaurants before joining Watershed in 2014 and taking over as executive chef in 2015. 

--AJC food and dining editor Ligaya Figueras contributed to this report

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