Patio Pick: Seed’s new chef wants to nurture loyal east Cobb community

For many, the pandemic has fueled personal introspection, emotional roller-coaster rides and unexpected life and work changes, often at breakneck speed.

After 2 1/2 years as sous chef at Seed Kitchen & Bar in Marietta, Melissa Hart thought she’d exhausted her potential for growth. Her boss, Doug Turbush, understood where she was coming from, but he couldn’t do much to sweeten the pot. So Hart took a job in her home state of Ohio, only to have her dream assignment open soon after. “Four months after I had moved to Ohio, I moved right back to Atlanta,” said Hart, who took over as Seed’s executive chef in late May, after the departure of John Flagello.

While a fall menu change is in the works, Hart has been gently putting her touch on the plate. Inspired by Southern produce, she’s created a salad with Pearson’s peaches, buttermilk goat cheese and sorghum pecans, and a sweet corn and leek soup with sherry crema and crispy leeks.

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Credit: Brandon Amato

Credit: Brandon Amato

Seed, anchored in the corner of Merchants Walk shopping center, opened in 2011 and in that time has set a high standard for contemporary American cuisine in east Cobb. Hart’s arrival is an opportune moment to see why it is so venerated.

As the chef points out, the menu is laden with “rock-star” plates that patrons crave. “I do recognize this place means a lot to people in this community, and there are dishes that people just want to see on our menus, and that aren’t going anywhere, and I totally support that,” Hart says, “because at the end of the day, we are here for the guests.”

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Indeed, we’d only been seated on the handsome patio for a few minutes on a Sunday evening when a gathering of nine ladies, ready to celebrate a birthday, marched in. Eyeballing the cocktail menu, I spied a bourbon, ginger and lemon drink — Horse’s Neck with a Kick — for which I published a recipe way back in 2013. At Seed, even the boozy libations have longevity. I ordered a Basil Instinct (gin, orgeat, chartreuse, lime, basil), an easy-drinking sipper with a delayed kick.

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Deviled eggs and smoked chicken tacos sounded like fine starters, and they were. Three dainty little flour tortillas stood upright in a stand, loaded with pimento polenta and chipotle lime crema. Three is a hard number to split evenly — wonder how many sparks have flown over this appetizer? The eggs were topped bagel style with chopped smoked salmon, pickled red onion, capers — a clever and tasty touch.

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

A more virtuous eater might have gone for the seasonal veggie plate, these days graced with the likes of braised greens, marinated cucumbers and tomatoes, blistered shishitos, mushrooms and squash, German potato salad. Not me. Torn between chicken schnitzel and the burger, I chose the latter, a decision that made me exceedingly happy. I’m thinking the beautiful medium-rare half-pounder, with caramelized onions, white cheddar, tomato, and special sauce, is one of those Seed classics that won’t budge. I certainly hope not. I ordered mine with house-cut fries, drowning in shaved Parm (killer!), and had little trouble dispatching all of it, along with a glass of Cadence, a nutty, burnished Belgian dubbel by Smyrna’s Reformation Brewing.

Also memorable was the lemon and herb ricotta-stuffed ravioli, sitting in a puddle of buttery sauce, perked up with fresh heirloom tomatoes, basil, and a final blasting of Grana Padano. Who says vegetarian food can’t be luxe?

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

When it comes to sweet temptations, Seed does not hold back. Lemon mascarpone cheesecake, salted caramel creme brûlée, tres leches cake, a chocolate chunk cookie baked in a skillet — Jesus, take the wheel. You won’t err, even if you just close your eyes and point. We ended up with a chocolate peanut butter parfait. Scattered with shards of peanut brittle and paired with one perfect scoop of roasted banana ice cream, it was very chocolate-y and very irresistible. I practically licked the plate yet managed to walk out.

That’s something I hope to do often in the future, whether revisiting familiar dishes, or welcoming new ones. How fortunate for us that Hart had a change of heart.

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

SEED KITCHEN & BAR

Menu: Contemporary American, with Southern and Asian influences

Alcohol: Full bar, with delicious craft cocktails, a smart selection of local beers and a wine list that leans toward the West Coast

What I ordered: Deviled eggs, smoked chicken tacos, burger with Parmesan fries, ravioli, chocolate peanut butter parfait

Service options: Dine-in, takeout and delivery

Mask policy: Patrons are not required to wear masks; staff wears masks while on duty

Address, phone: 1311 Johnson Ferry Road, Number 504, Marietta; 678-214-6888

Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays; 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays; 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Website: eatatseed.com

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