First Look: Cooks & Soldiers, West Midtown

Cooks & Soldiers is the newest concept from the Castellucci Hospitality Group, which includes the Iberian Pig in Decatur, Double Zero in Sandy Springs, and Sugo in Johns Creek. The Basque-inspired concept in West Midtown represents another step for the next generation of the Castellucci family, with Federico Castellucci III working the front of the house and John Castellucci serving as executive sous chef.

The look: Located on the main floor of the new Elan Westside luxury apartment development at the corner of 14th Street and Howell Mill Road, the cool, contemporary space offers views of the surrounding cityscape. The sprawling bar area features a small exhibition kitchen, where chefs create Basque-style tapas, while the dining room looks into the main kitchen and wood-fired grill.

The scene: One recent evening around dinnertime, there was a wait for a table. The dining room was crowded with Castellucci restaurant regulars, who’d made reservations to check out the latest venture. The bar was busy, too, with a chatty younger crowd enjoying drinks and snacks.

The food: Executive chef Landon Thompson, recently chef de cuisine at the Iberian Pig, oversees a menu divided between snacks, small plates and wood-grilled meat, seafood and vegetables. Among traditional tapas served on toast ($5-$8), boquerones are layered with white anchovy, blood orange marmalade and apple-serrano salad. Small plates include grilled Spanish octopus ($15) with charcoal potatoes, piquillo emulsion and rosemary. Wood-grilled dishes, meant to be shared, range from head-on Madagascar prawns ($22) to a kilo of bone-in rib eye ($74).

The drinks: On the drinks list, find American and Spanish cider by the glass ($9-$12) and bottle ($25-$44), and Spanish txakoli ($54-$69/bottle), a light wine considered the perfect pairing for tapas. Signature cocktails ($10-$13) include The Seven Are One with gin, lime juice, simple syrup, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and salt, and Fox Manhattan with rye, benedictine, antica formula, cherry bark and vanilla bitters.

The extras: For dessert ($6-$8), look for the likes fior di latte gelato, amaro and frozen berries, and Basque cake with house-made cherry preserves, marcona almonds and sparkling cider.

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