As you sip, slurp down freshly shucked oysters. Even better, graze on nibbles like smoked bluefish dip with sourdough crackers. Smoked next door at sister restaurant Two Urban Licks, the fish is then whipped together with cream cheese, heavy cream to thin things out, and brought up to seasoning snuff with capers, shallots, chives, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, lemon juice and salt and pepper. This Nantucket pate hits the mark for scoopable heft and flavor.
Nantucket is one point of entry at Bully Boy, whose name recalls a restaurant that was a favorite for Concentrics owner Bob Amick’s parents during his upbringing on the East Coast. Meanwhile, co-executive chefs Michael Bertozzi and Justin Dixon bring to the table their own coastal and Southern influences (Bertozzi grew up in Jacksonville, Florida; Dixon is a native Atlantan), as well as a knack for playfully modernizing classic dishes.
Florida red snapper tartare becomes an eye-popping plate with the addition of a sculptural mound of crackly, melt-in-your-mouth fried rice paper. Tabasco and Old Bay give a bowl of plump BBQ Georgia White Shrimp spicy wow power.
Bully Boy’s N.C. Poulet Rouge feast, which includes chicken, pickled veggies, green bibb leaves, Carolina Gold rice, sauces and bao buns, is a fun way to share food. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Some creations require assembly at the table. Tuck bright chunks of fresh yellowfin tuna dressed in dashi aioli into lettuce wraps or opt for one of a trio of family-style meals from the “Feast” section of the menu. Designed to feed between four and six people, the N.C. Poulet Rouge might be one of the best group dining deals in town. Whether ordered as a half or whole chicken ($22 and $36, respectively), out comes a platter piled with slices of the roasted heirloom bird, plus accoutrements of pickled veggies, green bibb leaves, a mound of Carolina Gold rice and ping-y sauces to stuff into puffy steamed bao buns. It’s as fun and interactive as a Korean barbecue experience.
Here, co-executive chef Michael Bertozzi cuts open the Japanese-style omelet that tops the Blue Crab Fried Rice at Bully Boy, but the servers often take care of that task. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
A night at Bully Boy can also be about sitting back and watching someone else work. Blue Crab Fried Rice comes with great egg entertainment. For this omurice show, a server slices open the omelet, letting it drape and unfold over the seafood-rice stir-fry. Eggs as tableside entertainment requires not just culinary skill, but confidence in a waitstaff. Initially, the plan was for Bertozzi or Dixon to step off the line and present the dish to diners themselves. But with the chefs crammed in a dinky open kitchen that shares space with the bar, firing up orders and running them to tables wasn’t doable. Its five-person team of servers capably manages the task.
Some dishes weren’t nearly as impressive as the Japanese exploding omelet. Parisian Gnocchi in a creamy she-crab soup was so rich that I couldn’t manage more than a few bites of the pillowy house-made pasta. The other pasta offering, red shrimp tossed in local Pasta Mami squid ink tagliolini, was needlessly busy, with nduja and citrus wedges getting in the way. A plentiful portion of steamed mussels sank from an off-tasting Thai coconut broth.
There was some inconsistency with the salt shaker (Brussels sprouts, especially, were excessively salted). Not so with addictive shoestring fries seasoned with herbes fines, and which you’ll find paired with items like the Maine Lobster Frites. Served on the upturned shell and dressed in an indulgent truffle cream, the lobster looks prettier than it tastes.
Though Bully Boy is a seafood shack at heart, it has notable meat options, such as the 60-Second Steak. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Although Bully Boy is a seafood shack at its core, there are meat options. A double-stack patty melt featuring rabbit from local Comfort Farms makes for fine comfort food. And the kitchen nails the quick-sear for its 60-Second Steak. The indulgent additions of a fried egg on top and foie truffle cream below turn the plate into a riff on steak-and-eggs, but the execution on this 5-ounce portion of Prime tenderloin was satisfying in and of itself.
Amick knows restaurants. He’s been churning out concept after concept for more than four decades. Bully Boy might not be breaking boundaries, but this latest Concentrics spot has appeal: an approachable, creative menu, a dynamic crew working the kitchen, bar and floor, and a lively space that invites your party to linger.
I’ll get to that table-for-one story someday. But at the moment, I’m content sharing the plate.
Overall rating: 2 of 4 stars (very good)
Food: Eastern Seaboard fare with a focus on small plates
Service: efficient, courteous, knows how to "read" the table
Best dishes: Smoked bluefish dip. BBQ Georgia White Shrimp. 60-Second Steak. Blue Crab Fried Rice. N.C. Poulet Rouge.
Vegetarian selections: Crispy Brussels Sprouts. Tucker Farms Bibb Lettuce Salad. Chopped Salad. Roasted Mushroom Empanada.
Price range: $$$
Credit cards: all major credit cards
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Sundays-Mondays; 5-11 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 5 p.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays
Children: not recommended
Parking: complimentary valet
MARTA station: no
Wheelchair access: yes
Noise level: moderate
Takeout: not recommended
Address, phone: 828 Ralph McGill Blvd., Atlanta. 678-904-5607
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