First Look: Grain, Midtown

Grain, a new cocktail-centered spot from the owners of Cypress Street Pint and Plate and Seven Lamps, opened last month at MidCity Lofts in Midtown. Seven Lamps chef Drew Van Leuvan and barman Kevin Bragg are behind the food and drink at the tiny storefront space, that somehow manages to be urban and sophisticated and warm and communal at the same time.

The look: Floor-to-ceiling windows create transparent views of the sidewalk patio and West Peachtree Street tableau. But the focal point of the design is a long concrete slab bar, with a row of wood plank appendages offering intimate seating for small parties. Believe it or not, that closet-like opening at the end of the back bar is the kitchen.

The scene: One recent evening, both Van Leuvan and Bragg were on hand, along with Bill Streck of Cypress Street, who was minding the front of the house. Magically, the lively crowd ebbed and flowed, but everyone quickly found a seat somewhere.

The food: Van Leuvan’s bar snacks and small plates menu is a sort of sensory study of the raw, cooked and molecular. Market-priced East Coast and West Coast oysters on the half shell and hamachi sashimi ($12) meet hanger steak tartare and house-made charcuterie ($7-$25). Sly snacks include “nitro-salted” caramel corn ($4) served smoking in a paper cone, and delicately plated but powerful edible cocktails ($5) such as mezcal-flavored Asian pears. For bigger bites, find the likes of broiled branzino ($18) and lobster mac and cheese ($16).

The drinks: Bragg’s beverage menu includes craft beer and cocktails on draft. Among recent specialties, the Blooming Hill ($9), with gin, lemongrass, ginger, lime and basil, and the Not So Neutral ($13) with bourbon, Punt e Mess, Benedictine and grapefruit bitters. There’s also a concise wine list, with a dozen offerings by the glass ($9-$14).

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The extras: Check out oyster happy hour, 3-6 p.m Mondays-Fridays. For sweet tooths, Van Leuvan concocts treats such as milk chocolate mousse with passion fruit caramel.

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