First Look: Seed Kitchen & Bar, Marietta

If you’re planning on checking out Seed Kitchen & Bar, especially during peak lunch or dinner hours, you better make a reservation. Open for just a little over a month in the bustling Merchant’s Walk Shopping Center on Johnson Ferry Road, the restaurant has quickly become a destination for East Cobb residents hungry for a taste of casual fine dining.

Executive chef/owner Doug Turbush, who lives in east Cobb and is a veteran of Atlanta restaurants such as Nava and Bluepointe, designed the modern American menu as a kind of declaration of independence.

“Basically, I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do,” Turbush said. “I’d been doing what other people wanted for a long time. I have a lot of diversity in my background, with Latin flavors and Asian flavors. And I wanted to bring those forward without confusing people too much.”

The look: Happening Atlanta design firm ai3, Inc. created a stylish, visually open space that blurs the lines between the kitchen, bar and dining areas. Kitchen tiles, butcher block tables and seats at a chef's prep table add to an atmosphere that brings diners close to the action. There's also an outdoor patio and a private dining space.

The scene: Early one Friday evening, the bar was crowded with couples getting a head start on drinks and dinner. It was a smart move, because soon after, the restaurant was engulfed by a swarm of people, including several large parties, who filled the air with a convivial din.

The menu: Turbush's offerings begin with the likes of pimento cheese crostini with Benton's country ham and celery hearts ($6) or Thai beef salad with local organic arugula ($8), and end with the likes of pineapple upside down cake with coconut mousse ($5). In between, look for sandwiches, steaks and entree plates, such as New Bedford scallops and pork belly ($18) and Ashland Farms chicken schnitzel with miso mustard ($16).

The drinks: Atlanta's thriving cocktail culture is reflected in mixologist Chris McNeil's bar menu. His takes on vintage and modern cocktails include a pisco sour and the Seed 75 with Hayman's Old Tom gin, lemon and homemade pomegranate grenadine. The extensive wine list is curated by general manager and sommelier Jason Raymond.

The extras: Though Turbush hadn't planned to open for lunch until January, steady demand persuaded him to move up that timetable. "In early November, we were getting 40 or 50 walk-ins a day, just by leaving the door open," he said. Look for brunch soon, too.

Dining out

Seed Kitchen & Bar, Marietta

Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. Dinner: 3-10 p.m., Sundays-Thursdays; 3-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.

Starters, soups and salads, $3-$9; sandwiches and small plates, $5-$9; cookies, pastries and desserts, $1-$8.

1311 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 504, Marietta, 678-214-6888, eatatseed.com