Review: One Flew South brings cross-cultural bites to the Beltline

Credit: Tori Allen PR

Credit: Tori Allen PR

One Flew South opened to great fanfare in 2008 as the first upscale restaurant at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Its combination of cocktails, sushi, globally inspired Southern fare and exceptional hospitality put it on the frequent flyer radar. Two James Beard nominations for outstanding service — a singular accomplishment among airport dining establishments — secured it a spot on the national fooderati map.

Jeron Brown remembers folks flying in from the West Coast just to dine there. He was a dishwasher originally, but now has made it to sous chef.

Others from the original crew are still around. Todd Richards is culinary director for parent company Jackmont Hospitality, Cedric McCoery worked his way up the line to executive chef, and Allen Suh (8Arm, Gato, Gaja) is back running the sushi side, as he did 14 years ago. Only this time, not at the airport.

One Flew South’s intown roost has been open since mid-June. The high ceilings, window walls and expansive oval bar set an elegant ambiance in the new location and, like the flagship restaurant, a photo mural covering an entire wall evokes a pine-filled Georgia forest. Only the heavily trafficked footpath that is the Beltline is a reminder that this is not in Terminal E.

Credit: Tori Allen PR

Credit: Tori Allen PR

With no plane to catch, relax with the namesake cocktail, a sweet-citrusy martini of plum vodka, yuzu and sake. Served with a single rose petal floating on top, it’s an elegant beauty. But, while another cocktail, the Sweet Georgia Brown, started as a balanced number — with bourbon, cappelletti, iced tea and peach bitters — lousy ice in the Collins glass quickly diluted it. And, the TBJOTB doesn’t live up to its The Best Julep on the Beltline acronym.

There are other beverage options — sake, sparkling wine, rosé, chardonnay, cabernet and “interesting” reds and whites. Nearly two-thirds of the wine offerings are available by the glass.

Credit: Tori Allen PR

Credit: Tori Allen PR

Like the drinks, the food menu features airport carryovers and new creations. Among the former, order the poke tacos, a trio of crispy, fried tortillas filled with smooth avocado, meaty diced tuna, salsa fresca, whisps of cilantro and a scattering of sesame seeds. Among the latter, have a build-your-own deviled egg experience, with eight egg white halves, plenty of seasoned yolk filling, little mounds of radish matchsticks, fried shallots, smoked salt and black pepper.

From the sushi menu, try melt-in-your-mouth unagi nigiri, glazed in thick, sweet-salty eel sauce; fresh, clean hamachi nigiri; and a scallop roll, with roasted corn and bacon that offer surprise crunch and a summer-in-the-South feel.

Most impressive was the salmon and avocado roll. Wrapped in white seaweed, with marbling reminiscent of aged calligraphy paper, it was visually stunning. Holding charred Vidalia onion minced so fine as to be invisible next to the rice, its subtle smoky sweetness was sublime.

Credit: Tori Allen PR

Credit: Tori Allen PR

But, vegetarians are out of luck when it comes to anything beyond eggs, salads (seaweed and cold noodle both were average), and a very earthy golden beet soup. That’s too bad, because the mains are where chef McCoery gets playful with an international pantry.

His flavor-packed chicken and waffle skews Asian, with a batter made from chewy mochi and accompaniments of plum chutney and green tea butter. Bourbon sauce atop that spicy, crisped chicken is a tipsy nod to the South. The execution on the juicy bird was far superior to the dry cutlets of katsu.

The thin strips of flanken-style grilled short ribs lacquered in sticky, sweet Szechuan sauce were delicious finger food, and the cubes of coconut fried rice were unanticipated one-bite wonders, but the lamb ribs were coated heavily in a gritty coffee rub.

All the wonders of light, buttery black cod couldn’t improve a bed of dry grits that were bland, despite the white cheddar and collard green kimchi. Seared scallops similarly suffered from a pairing with undercooked cauliflower.

Credit: Tori Allen PR

Credit: Tori Allen PR

Order the rice pudding for dessert, and you’re in for another gustatory surprise: warm, toothsome black rice, cooked in coconut milk. The darkness is offset by finely diced whiskey-poached peaches and toasted coconut flakes.

The restaurant’s highly professional service staff upholds the One Flew South tradition of excellent hospitality. But, in this Beltline space, they face a challenge: competition. With upscale dining options on all sides, it’ll take consistent food and drink to build a repeat clientele.


Food: globally inspired Southern fare, sushi

Service: staff exudes hospitality

Best dishes: deviled egg experience; poke tacos; salmon and avocado roll; unagi nigiri; chicken and waffle; bourbon miso black cod; grilled short ribs, Szechuan-style; rice pudding

Vegetarian selections: deviled eggs, seaweed salad, market salad, chilled noodle salad, golden beet soup, shishito peppers

Alcohol: full bar

Price range: $$$

Credit cards: all major cards accepted

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 5-11 p.m. Fridays, 3-11 p.m. Saturdays, 3-10 p.m. Sundays

Parking: paid lot, limited free street parking

MARTA station: King Memorial

Reservations: accepted

Wheelchair access: yes

Noise level: average

Outdoor dining: patio with shade sails

Takeout: order in-person or via phone; no delivery

Address, phone: 670 DeKalb Ave., Atlanta. 470-225-7119


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