Review: Buckhead version of a diner includes modern prices

Credit: Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

Credit: Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

The American diner has gone through many iterations since 150 years ago, when Walter Scott began peddling sandwiches, coffee and pies late at night from a horse-pulled wagon in Providence, Rhode Island.

The wagon gave way to converted railroad cars — and later pre-fab dining cars — outfitted with a counter, stools and a food preparation or service area along one side. The post-World War II period brought Formica countertops, porcelain tiles, leather booths and terrazzo floors. Population shifts to the suburbs led to such design features as flashy chrome, neon lighting and big windows, to attract passing motorists.

Fifty years later, the Unsukay restaurant group (Local Three, Muss & Turner’s, MTH Pizza) has created its version of a modern diner, Roshambo, at the former Broken Egg Cafe location in Buckhead’s Peachtree Battle Shopping Center.

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Credit: Roshambo

Credit: Roshambo

Like all proper diners, Roshambo has a counter and stools, but here, it’s a long, glitzy bar, stocked with whiskey and fine wines. It has a solid bartending team that can mix an excellent sazerac or boulevardier from a classics-heavy list.

Three rows of booths line the rest of the long, rectangular space, whose focal point is an art installation on the wall that depicts outlines of the Atlanta skyline in 1970, 1996 and 2015. Tucked in back is a dining room called Side Hustle, with plates and other Atlanta-centric bric-a-brac hanging on the walls.

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If you don’t get all the Atlanta references, there’s a lengthy explanatory note at every table. It also explains that the restaurant is named after a game more commonly known as Rock, Paper, Scissors. “Since we are modeling ourselves after a diner, we replaced Rock, Paper, Scissors with breakfast, lunch and dinner,” the note says.

The all-day menu features a handful of dishes in each of those three meal categories, as well as starters intended for sharing, other items dubbed “healthy,” the standard weekday blue-plate specials and the superbly crackly, finger-licking good eight-piece fried chicken bucket that costs $68, and comes with mac and cheese, coleslaw, oversized square biscuits and a dipping sauce. You can add a bottle of bubbles for $35 more.

While a diner generally is a casual gathering place that dishes out mostly American staples at reasonable prices, Roshambo has bistro-level prices that reflect higher-than-diner standards in sourcing, execution, service and fair employee compensation and benefits.

Credit: Photo by Layla Ritchie

Credit: Photo by Layla Ritchie

Since opening late last year, Roshambo has built a following — not surprisingly, among the well-heeled neighbors. On a recent Saturday night, not having a reservation would have meant a 90-minute wait for a pair of seats at the first-come, first-serve bar. It’s a similar situation during prime Sunday brunch time.

So, grab that bar stool, order your drink of choice and pair it with a shareable appetizer, such as the chunky Buffalo chicken dip with tortillas; oil-free house-made tater tots; or crispy Brussels sprouts in a sweet unagi sauce that seeps so deeply into the sprouts that the juiciness explodes in your mouth. Even something as simple as the winter salad (baby kale coated in tahini dressing and tossed with toasted pistachios, crumbled feta and Granny Smith slivers) was satisfying.

Roshambo’s double-stack burger is solid — nicely seasoned patties, melted cheese, dijonnaise sauce — and so are the shrimp and cheese grits, the latter so buttery and creamy, yet toothsome, that a fellow diner said they were among the best they’d eaten.

Credit: Photo by Layla Ritchie

Credit: Photo by Layla Ritchie

Even something as simple as the omelet is worth admiring, because the execution was spot on.

The duck meatloaf (Wednesday’s plate du jour) was a fine slice, half-duck and half-chuck, accompanied by mashed potatoes and roasted carrots. I’d have been happy with all-chuck (could that lower the $28 price a bit?), because the duck isn’t what made the difference. It was just a nicely made hunk of moist, juicy meat with delicious homestyle sides.

However, a grilled cheese made with four cheeses and served with tomato soup, one of the few vegetarian entrees at Roshambo, didn’t live up to expectations at $18.

And, an order of Jim White’s blackened redfish Pontchartrain, an homage to the Jim White’s Half Shell seafood restaurant that occupied a space in this shopping center back in the day, brought a filet that was on the tough and dry side, in contrast to the cheddar grit cake beneath it.

Credit: Photo by Layla Ritchie

Credit: Photo by Layla Ritchie

References to former Peachtree Battle occupants at Roshambo go beyond the menu — a wall of cassette tapes near the restrooms honors Turtle’s Records & Tapes. It’s just one more element that helps create what the restaurant’s owners call an “homage to Atlanta with a steady diet of wit, whimsy and irreverence.”

Between the lively atmosphere; quality, chef-driven food; and impressive beverage selection, Roshambo is a worthy dining destination any hour of the day — for those who can afford modern diner prices.


3 of 4 stars (excellent)

Food: chef-driven, all-day diner

Service: well-trained and polished

Recommended dishes: disco tots, crispy Brussels sprouts, winter salad, shrimp and grits, omelette du fromage, eggs Benedict, double-stack burger, bucket of chicken

Vegetarian dishes: disco tots, crispy Brussels sprouts, winter salad, Elvis French toast, omelette du fromage, four-cheese grilled cheese, various desserts

Alcohol: full bar

Price range: $$$

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Parking: free lot

MARTA station: none

Reservations: recommended for evenings and weekends

Outdoor dining: none

Takeout: not recommended

Address, phone: 2355 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-835-7373


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