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Future looks bright for plant-based dining at upscale Atlanta restaurants

Atlas in the St. Regis Buckhead makes a point of highlighting its vegetarian and vegan tasting menus. Courtesy of Atlas

Credit: Courtesy of Atlas

Credit: Courtesy of Atlas

Atlas in the St. Regis Buckhead makes a point of highlighting its vegetarian and vegan tasting menus. Courtesy of Atlas

Restaurants with tasting menus, where most of the selections are made by the chef, tend to appeal to people who want to experience food from a new perspective.

Since many diners have shifted toward vegetables — out of concern for both the environment and their health — more fine-dining restaurants are focusing on plant-based dishes, celebrating vegetables with the same enthusiasm as an exceptional cut of meat.

Among the upscale restaurants in metro Atlanta that have hopped aboard the vegetable cart are Michelin-star winners Atlas, Bacchanalia and Lazy Betty. Each offers a full vegetarian tasting menu option, and Atlas, located in the St. Regis Buckhead hotel, goes a step further, making a fully vegan version available.

All three of those restaurants offer rare treats, such as fresh-shaved truffles. But more humble ingredients are lavished with just as much care, including the lowly, yet miraculous, egg.

Bacchanalia, on Atlanta’s Westside, serves a farm egg with delicately sweet white asparagus, while Atlas coats one in a green herb gel.

In Chamblee, the Alden has served an Asian-accented kimchi egg with bok choy and broccoli as a standalone course on its chef’s tasting menu.

A carrot salad from a brunch menu at the Alden is an example of how upscale restaurants use vegetables. Courtesy of the Alden

Credit: Courtesy of the Alden

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Credit: Courtesy of the Alden

Some restaurants highlight technique by featuring delicate, handmade pastas stuffed with vegetable fillings. Lazy Betty in Midtown Atlanta does a truffle agnolotti, while Bacchanalia serves ricotta ravioli with carrots, turnips and mushrooms. The pasta specialists at No. 246 in Decatur, where a tasting menu is available at the chef’s table, serve a spinach agnolotti.

Another trend involves using a whole vegetable, a practice done with aplomb at Little Bear in Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood, where a $50 chef’s choice is an option. Chef Jarrett Stieber often uses whole herbs to finish dishes, as well as components such as broccoli stalk, scallion zhug and sunchoke borscht.

As chefs and investors vie for those coveted Michelin Guide stars, more tasting menus are likely to pop up around Atlanta.

But while that might have been bad news for vegetable lovers in the past, the future looks bright for upscale restaurants continuing to push the envelope with plant-based dishes.

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