1397 North Highland Ave., Atlanta

Chef Ron Eyester’s solid cooking at his newly christened Rosebud – once known as Food 101 Morningside – is exactly like he is – totally approachable, down-to-earth, completely likable. And don’t get him started on the Grateful Dead (but more on that later). This past summer he bought the restaurant from Food 101, and has made it a home-away-from-home for the Morningside community.

Eyester has long been a proponent of the local food movement, even when it wasn’t a statement to do so. He helps run one of the city’s most popular organic farmer’s markets, Morningside Farmers’ Market, on Saturdays in the parking lot just off his restaurant’s patio. He lists, like many other chefs in the city, his suppliers on the back of his menu, from Alon’s bread to local farms he uses as purveyors. The difference between his menu and others’ is that Eyester somehow manages (like Dave Larkworthy at 5 Seasons Brewing) to get top-notch ingredients into his kitchen without charging top-notch prices.

He’s changed the menu – actually more of a tweak than a change – for the better: Food 101’s menu was overrun with choices; Eyester has streamlined things. The dinner menu still offers blue plate specials for each night of the week, and Eyester has a knack for making them easy to promote. Sunday brunch was so popular, for instance, that he also serves it on Monday evening. Wednesdays bring the “big salads” menu, and a plate of late-harvest tomatoes – a mixture of fat, grape-shaped cherry tomatoes and luscious Black Krim heirlooms – plus pan-fried capers and mozzarella (made by one of Eyester’s cooks, Jose Hernandez). It is almost a meal and if there weren’t so many other things I’d have liked to try, I would have stopped with it and my glass of wine.

Those other things included the buttermilk-fried Springer Mountain chicken, a holdover from Food 101’s menu, every bit as crispy outside and moist inside, smothered in pan gravy over mashed potatoes with Eyester’s house-made slaw. A dish of most meager origins is elevated here to noble ground.

Chicken liver toasts are a disappointment (the liver too scarce and the toast too plentiful), as are many of the desserts. But orange looks good on this menu: a tiny, cast-iron au gratin dish of house-made pimento cheese served with buttered saltines tossed with cayenne and dusted with Parmesan cheese was a delight, with the heat of pepper a backdrop to the creamy, shredded cheese.

The restaurant has become a haven for the surrounding neighborhood, and Eyester’s clever personality, buoyant and gregarious, is a bolster to the entire community. He is like a happy Falstaff without the deceit.

And like Falstaff, he is clever, a businessman as much as chef. Some of the restaurant’s promotions – particularly the Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia musically inspired dinners – are pure genius, and have become a thing of legend.

In fact, I don’t know of any restaurant, save Abattoir, that so truly emanates its owner. I feel when I am dining here that I am completely immersed in all things Ron, from the pot roast to the house-infused gin to the Grateful Dead song titles splashed across a blackboard. Servers have caught the bug, too, and seem almost like this larger-than-life character’s adoptive children.

What a happy little home they’ve made. What’s for dinner?

Rosebud, 1397 North Highland Ave., Atlanta

Overall rating:

Food: Contemporary American

Service: Hospitality abounds; servers here seem like family

Price range: $$

Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover

Hours of operation: Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dinner: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Best dishes: Fried chicken with gravy, pimento cheese, "big salad" plates, pink-eyed pea succotash, peekytoe crab ravioli

Vegetarian selections: Vegetarian sides, "big salad" plates

Children: Yes

Parking: Adjacent lot and on-street parking

Reservations: Yes

Wheelchair access: Yes

Smoking: No

Noise level: Low

Patio: Yes

Takeout: Yes

Address, telephone: 1397 North Highland Ave., Atlanta, 404-347-9747

Web site:

Pricing code: $$$$$ means more than $75; $$$$ means $75 and less; $$$ means $50 and less; $$ means $25 and less; $ means $15 and less. The price code represents a typical full-course meal for one excluding drinks.

Key to AJC ratings


Sets the standard for fine dining in the region.


One of the best in the Atlanta area.

Very good

Merits a drive if you're looking for this kind of dining.


A worthy addition to its neighborhood, but food may be hit and miss.


Food is more miss than hit.

Restaurants that do not meet these criteria may be rated Poor.

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