Atlanta Orders In: The Chastain a dynamic addition to Buckhead area

Rabbit Gnocchi from The Chastain
Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Rabbit Gnocchi from The Chastain Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

New American bistro offers baked goods by day, fine dining by night

“Everything is interconnected,” said Christopher Grossman, executive chef and operating partner at the Chastain, a new daytime cafe and evening bistro that overlooks its namesake Chastain Park in Buckhead.

Grossman was referring to the spaces that seamlessly make up the renovated property (former home to Horseradish Grill), lending it what Grossman called a “park-like, community feel.” There’s the main building, with both bar and dining room surrounded by woods and streaming with natural light. An expansive patio features a tented, heated dining section, plus a fire pit and a cluster of socially distanced tables and chairs opposite a long wooden bench. And, there’s the vegetable garden, tops on Grossman’s list for what he called his “dream restaurant.”

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Overlooking Chastain Park, the Chastain has an expansive patio with a tented, heated dining section, a fire pit, and a cluster of socially distanced tables and chairs opposite a long wooden bench. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Overlooking Chastain Park, the Chastain has an expansive patio with a tented, heated dining section, a fire pit, and a cluster of socially distanced tables and chairs opposite a long wooden bench. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

But, the interconnectedness at the Chastain is more than the space. It’s Grossman’s vision of a new American menu that invites mixing, matching and sharing — or sometimes fighting over — elevated comfort food in the form of rabbit gnocchi; or succulent roasted chicken with a warm chanterelle salad and a bonus chicken pot pie, capped with a hot biscuit; or a plate of crispy okra tempura with a boiled peanut remoulade. (The latter dish recently was removed from the menu; fingers crossed it comes back.)

It’s also a menu that shows evidence of Grossman’s time at premier dining establishments — six years under veteran Gerry Klaskala at Aria, time at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and a five-year run as executive chef at Atlas at the St. Regis Hotel.

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A filling order of roasted chicken breast from the Chastain comes with a warm mushroom salad and a bonus chicken pot pie, capped with a hot biscuit. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
A filling order of roasted chicken breast from the Chastain comes with a warm mushroom salad and a bonus chicken pot pie, capped with a hot biscuit. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

The interconnectedness also includes the integral role that pastry chef Christian Castillo and his team play in the restaurant’s operation, as they whip up muffins, croissants and cinnamon rolls for the daytime counter-service cafe, plus breads and creative desserts (that’s no ordinary dark chocolate mousse) for the evening crowd. Since the Chastain’s debut in November, Grossman has been thrilled with the in-house bread and pastry program. “It’s surpassed all my expectations,” he said. “The reason is Christian.”

Executive chef and operating partner Christopher Grossman (from left), pastry chef Christian Castillo and executive sous chef Jessica Mullice of the Chastain all formerly worked at Atlas at the St. Regis Hotel. Courtesy of Michael Thompson
Executive chef and operating partner Christopher Grossman (from left), pastry chef Christian Castillo and executive sous chef Jessica Mullice of the Chastain all formerly worked at Atlas at the St. Regis Hotel. Courtesy of Michael Thompson

Credit: Michael Thompson

Credit: Michael Thompson

The Chastain has served to reunite the two chefs, who worked together at Atlas before Grossman left in the fall of 2019 to dedicate himself full-time to bringing the Chastain to fruition. The Chastain’s executive sous chef, Jessica Mullice, is another familiar face. Like Castillo, she also had a stint at Atlas. Most recently, Mullice worked at the Modern, inside the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but returned to Atlanta when the pandemic forced restaurants in the Big Apple to close, and the job market evaporated.

While the nature-enclosed space, refined comfort food and deep talent pool are important reasons for the Chastain’s early success — as noted by its popularity, especially among the weekend crowd — the high demand for on-premises dining (at 50% reduced capacity, due to COVID-19) has slowed the rollout of the restaurant’s takeout program.

Online ordering for the daytime cafe will launch by late January, but the rollout date for online dinner orders is still to be determined. Meanwhile, the restaurant primarily handles carryout orders placed in-person, and juggles to accommodate phone orders.

The Friday night I picked up my order, it was evident that they were working out the kinks in the takeout process. The food, however, needed no correcting. It was carefully packaged — down to the quenelle of vanilla bean ice cream that was double-wrapped in plastic over ice, waiting to be set atop a slice of dense pecan pie — and the compositions were so beautiful that I transferred the lot to fine china.

I haven’t eaten at a restaurant in 11 months. That well-executed takeout meal from the Chastain offered comfort and consolation — and hope that, one day soon, I can take a seat inside, to fully experience this dynamic addition to Atlanta’s restaurant scene.

One section of the Chastain's large patio is tented and heated. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
One section of the Chastain's large patio is tented and heated. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

THE CHASTAIN

Menu: new American bistro

Alcohol: full-service bar for dine-in only

What I ordered: French onion soup, apple and Brussels sprouts salad, rabbit gnocchi, cornmeal tempura okra, crown roast chicken breast with mushroom salad and chicken pot pie, pecan pie, dark chocolate mousse. Every dish brought gratifying bites. The only disappointment is that the okra is now off the menu.

Service options: cafe, walk-up, with online ordering coming soon; dinner, dine-in (reservations strongly encouraged), takeout (in-person orders preferred), no delivery

Outdoor dining: yes

Mask policy: required for all employees, and for customers when not seated

Address, phone: 4320 Powers Ferry Road, Atlanta; 404-257-6416

Hours: counter-service cafe, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; dinner, 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays

Website: thechastainatl.com

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