There are currently 16 restaurants at The Battery Atlanta adjacent to SunTrust Park. While the cuisine varies, each eatery is vying for dining dollars, especially when the entertainment district fills up on Braves game days.
On a recent Saturday evening, despite the Braves being out of town, The Battery was hopping. Then again, just last week came news that Todd English Tavern had struck out after only one year in operation.
English’s spot, like other restaurants at The Battery Atlanta, is attached to a notable name. There’s C. Ellet’s from Linton Hopkins, El Felix from Ford Fry, an outpost for Antico Pizza. Garden & Gun Club just set up shop.
Not to be forgotten is Achie’s from celeb chef Hugh Acheson (5&10, the National, Empire State South). Unlike other Battery dining concepts, Achie’s has the distinction of being a hotel restaurant.
When you enter Achie’s, which is in the Omni Hotel, you’ll find a bright, airy space with windows that offer full view of the activity outside. Wood is the material of choice (floor, tables, chairs) in this calm, modestly appointed dining room whose homey design touches like a mishmash of pot lids lining one wall keep things from feeling formal.
Achie’s is named for Acheson’s grandfather, a Canadian banker who worked in the Caribbean. Yet Canada and the Caribbean hold a presence that is minor on the menu. This is a carte that gives a nod to Southern cuisine, and from a kitchen not restricted by tradition.
Here, fried green tomatoes come as fries. Dredged in a mix of seasoned cornmeal and flour and refrigerated before taking a dip in the fryer, these thick sticks of unripe tomatoes hold a nice, crunchy exterior, a soft (though not mealy) interior, and will leave you licking your fingers of a salty seasoning with tones of cumin, coriander and paprika. Dipped into a spunky green garlic remoulade, the green tomato fries are delicious. At $9, the portion is chintzy.
Lowcountry Frogmore Fritters are quite possibly my favorite dish on the menu. The golden rounds are nicely crisped yet the interior moist and delicate. The fritters are billed as holding andouille sausage, jalapeno, scallions, corn and shrimp, but even after I ordered this dish on two occasions, the seafood barely registered. Even so, the resulting flavor is superb, and this portion size can make it around the table.
Far less appealing are the Roasted Ballpark Oysters, which hold, among other things, bits of premium ballpark franks. They are a reminder of the proximity of Achie’s to the stadium. Unfortunately, the essence of hot dog overpowers all else.
Whereas the hot dog-oyster duo does not work for me, the juicy Wagyu burger seamlessly unites the flavors of France with an American classic via caramelized onions, French onion jus, Gruyere cheese and a brioche bun. As one dining partner commented, “It’s like eating French onion soup.” But as a burger — and a burger far more interesting than the A’s Burger with cheddar, tomato, “special sauce,” lettuce and Vidalia onion.
The kitchen is helmed by Alex Bolduc, who is not a stranger to fine dining. Nearly two decades into his career, the Atlanta native has spent time at Acheson’s 5&10 in Athens, ran culinary operations for Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Yountville, Calif., and worked as a prive chef for five years for a globe-trotting client who regularly hosted private dinners for dignitaries and movie stars.
While not tweezer food, dishes at Achie’s are often composed. Sometimes the embellishment is an annoyance. Like the elote cornbread, a generous, shareable slice of griddled cornbread mounded with corn kernels, peppers, queso fresco, cilantro and a smoked tomato aioli, toppers that were more a colorful mask for the dry, crumbly bread beneath.
Yet other compositions were stunners. A green tomato gazpacho — the bulk coming from tomato and cucumber; the flavor from avocado, green onion, jalapeno, lime and cilantro — was refreshing on a warm May day. Pureed and carefully strained, the herbaceous, thin green liquid was as gorgeous on the eye as it was on the gullet.
The presentation of the dish is part of the appeal. Four Georgia shrimp, pickled avocado, a dab of creme fraiche and a few drops of chile oil are arranged just so in the center of the bowl. A server then pours the soup, tableside, around the seafood work of art.
Speaking of servers, the staff at Achie’s delivered attentive service worthy of mention. For my party of four, they split that gazpacho into four individual servings. Without request, burgers were cut into quarters for easy sharing.
The kitchen divided the 21-day aged striploin onto two wooden planks, turning an entree into a shareable dish. Too much fatty gristle (but satisfying potato rosti — Swiss-style potato hash browns) make this, the restaurant’s most expensive menu item ($38), far less of a draw than say, the duck breast served over a medley of toasted rice, a boiled peanut hoppin’ John, okra, shiitake mushrooms and a soft-boiled egg.
For dessert, I went one for three. Lime chess pie was pure sugar. Chocolate natilla custard tasted more like chocolate flavored Jell-O pudding from the pouch, but with an espresso accent. Cookies & Cream Oatmeal — vanilla bean ice cream sandwiched between cookies featuring puffed farro, chocolate chunks and pistachios — was the clear winner.
The drinks at Achie’s are a tricky call. In a district with an open-container policy, Achie’s has given due diligence to wine and beer options. The What Cheer rum-and-sherry cocktail was balanced, the flavors softening as the hefty ice cube melted. But serving a gin and tonic in a large Riedel glass is laughable. And teetotalers are out of luck if if they don’t want a Coca-Cola product or care about hipster Fever-Tree tonics.
“It’s meant to be a destination restaurant in the style that I do destination restaurants,” Acheson said in a January interview with The Atlanta-Journal Constitution upon the opening of Achie’s. “There’s no pomp and circumstance, but there’s good quality, and they’re technical and professional.”
All of that is true. But still, Achie’s isn’t the only option for food and drink at The Battery. Then again, no other restaurant can give its patrons a same-day pass to access the Omni’s rooftop pool and 582 Waterside Lounge & Bar when they fork over $25 to dine there. And don’t forget about those green tomato fries or the fritters.
Overall rating: 2 of 4 stars (very good)
Service: friendly, attentive, accommodating
Best dishes: Lowcountry Frogmore Fritters, Wagyu burger, green tomato fries, green tomato gazpacho
Vegetarian selections: bucatini, elote cornbread, green tomato gazpacho, various “Snackies” and side vegetables
Price range: $$$
Credit cards: all major credit cards
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays
Parking: complimentary valet at the Omni Hotel (with validated ticket), complimentary parking in the Red Deck parking garage (up to four hours on non-game days and up to two hours on game days)
MARTA station: none
Reservations: not necessary
Wheelchair access: yes
Noise level: medium
Address, phone: Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta, 2625 Circle 75 Parkway, Atlanta. 678-567-7327