Southern Belle puts aside tasting menu in favor of sharable a la carte menu

The Southen Belle dining room / Courtesy of Square Feet Studio

Credit: Courtesy of Square Feet Studio

Credit: Courtesy of Square Feet Studio

The Southen Belle dining room / Courtesy of Square Feet Studio

After pivoting to a tasting menu during the pandemic, chef Joey Ward’s much-lauded Poncey-Highland restaurant Southern Belle has returned to its roots with a selection of a la carte dishes.

Southern Belle adopted the tasting menu concept in 2020 from its adjacent sister concept, speakeasy-style Georgia Boy, but originally opened with a fun, inventive a la carte menu featuring dishes like slow-smoked collards, cheddar-ramp biscuits with strawberry-ramp jam and a sticky toffee-coffee pudding with Biscoff cream.

The Wheels Up! cocktail from Southern Belle. / Courtesy of Southern Belle

Credit: Courtesy of Southern Belle

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Credit: Courtesy of Southern Belle

Ward, who opened the two restaurants in 2019 at 1043 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE in the Plaza on Ponce development said he’s excited for Southern Belle to return to the concept it first opened with.

“It’s always been our goal to get back to that casual, high-energy vibe with both the menu and the service,” he said. “When we opened, we were consistently on a three-hour wait, serving small plates to be shared with friends. We did what we had to do for the past couple of years, but we’re ready for the restaurant to get back to its original glory.”

He said that during the period when both restaurants were serving tasting menus, “Southern Belle felt a bit like Georgia Boy lite. It was so far from the original concept, but we needed to make the biggest impact we could for every chair in the restaurant.”

The return to the a la carte menu will allow the restaurant to fully get back to its original goal of serving “locally sourced, hyper-seasonal dishes with international flavors,” Ward said.

Chef Joey Ward of Southern Belle and Georgia Boy. / Courtesy of Brian Manley

Credit: Courtesy of Brian Manley

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Credit: Courtesy of Brian Manley

To that end, Ward’s new menu celebrates local ingredients in dishes like the cold smoked pork belly with chili garlic crisp, Georgia peaches and Coca-Cola reduced with Chinese black vinegar; the Jekyl Island grouper with summer melon salad and Georgia olive oil; and a housemade Georgia peach brioche with Pearson Farms peaches. A separate plant-based menu is also available for vegan guests.

The restaurant’s new beverage program, which shifts from a wine focus to a cocktail focus, was created in the same spirit. Guests will find “in-flight cocktail service” with craft cocktails in travel-size glass bottles presented tableside via the restaurant’s decommissioned Delta Air Lines beverage cart, which was previously used to serve the Biscoff dessert.

A half-serving cocktail is served in each bottle, with plans to serve “flights” of three half-cocktails. The opening cocktail list includes Wheels Up, a take on the Negroni made with strawberry-infused Camus cognac, Cocchi Torino, La Quintinye Blanc, and Campari that comes with a Biscoff cookie.

Ward also points out the beverage program’s strong selection of non-alcoholic cocktails.

Georgia Peach Brioche + F.I.L.A. cocktail from Southern Belle. / Courtesy of Southern Belle

Credit: Courtesy of Southern Belle

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Credit: Courtesy of Southern Belle

A new management team ushers in the new menu, led by Emily Levy, who started out as a server when Southern Belle first opened and worked her way up to general manager. Joining her are assistant general manager Amanda Sharpton, who was most recently head server, beverage director Toki Sears, and sommelier Ellen Belden.

Though the space stays mostly the same, the Wards have changed up a bit of the art to “knock away some of the stuffiness and have some fun,” Ward said. One other difference between old and new Southern Belle: Where the restaurant didn’t take reservations pre-pandemic, they’re strongly recommended now.

For guests looking for a tasting menu, Georgia Boy will continue to deliver a multi-course chef’s table experience next door. Southern Belle will also continue to host its monthly Bless Their Hearts dinners with local guest chefs to benefit the national organization No Kid Hungry, which the Wards are actively involved in.

Southern Belle’s hours are 5-9:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

1043 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-698-3961, southernbelleatl.com

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