by Hannah Gray and Sophia Jactel
This year's semifinalists were announced, and in case you're not up-to-date on the list, Atlanta took front and center this year with 15 nominations. Learn how to get your fill of this acclaimed culinary bunch.
Led by executive chef Joe Schaefer (who won the Best Chef: Southeast award in 2003), Bacchanalia has earned a well-deserved reputation throughout its years in Atlanta since opening in 1993. Its contemporary American cuisine offers up light, creative dishes on an a la carte menu that is updated weekly for a refreshed experience every time you go. The seasonal menu is crafted out of exclusively organic ingredients, many of them from the chef’s personal farm. But the superb service is what really elevates its status: customers are treated like royalty and complimentary valet is an added bonus.
1198 Howell Mill Road, suite 100
Cakes & Ale
Best Chef Southeast: Billy Allin
The menu at Cakes & Ale is a beautiful, mouthwatering piece of literature full of sophisticated and classic fare, so it’s no wonder the man in behind it is a nationally recognized chef. A Southerner by birth with an Italian grandmother, Allin grew up with all the right influences to make a great cook, so that’s exactly what he became--and we’re all better off for it. Allin’s culinary education and career took him west to the Bay Area and then, thankfully, back down South. A veteran of Decatur favorite, Watershed, Allin took his experience and opened Cakes and Ale, which has become a local favorite in its own right.
155 Sycamore St.
Eat Me Speak Me
Rising Star of the Year
One of the restaurant concepts currently residing in Candler Park’s Gato, Eat Me Speak Me is led by Chef Jarrett Steiber. Steiber, a proponent of locally sourced, fresh ingredients, changes the menu frequently, a strategy that excites and intrigues his customers. A full list of the 23 farms Eat Me Speak Me sources from may be found on their site. Open Friday-Sunday from 7-11 pm, the spot does not take reservations and with their newfound semifinalist status, the possibility of a long line is definite, but worth it.
1660 McLendon Ave. N.E.
Empire State South
Outstanding Wine Program
When it comes to fine dining, wine selection is just as important as the meal itself. The sprawling libations menu at Empire State South, with executive chef Josh Hopkins at the wheel, has landed it this well-deserved nomination. The lengthy list is broken up into sub-sections underneath the reds and the whites, separating items by country of origin and type (i.e. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay). With exotic European bottles and traditional American picks abound, it’s no wonder it’s considered one of the best and certainly most diverse wine locations.
999 Peachtree Street
Five & Ten
This coveted Athens eatery is the definition of remixed Southern food. Owner Hugh Acheson’s flagship restaurant offers one of freshest takes on Southern indulgences seen recently in the restaurant world. The diverse but traditional menu seamlessly blends influences from Georgia cookery to French cuisine to Italian eats. Sunday suppers of fried chicken and fixings are offered, along with weekly Tuesday ramen nights. (P.S. Acheson won in 2012 for Southeast Chef in a tie with Restaurant Eugene’s Linton Hopkins.)
1073 S. Milledge Avenue
Alpharetta, Buckhead, Inman Park, etc.
At the forefront of Atlanta favorites including Superica, The Optimist, St. Cecilia, King + Duke, JCT Kitchen and more, Ford Fry is a local restaurant icon. Founder of his self-titled company, Ford Fry Restaurants, Fry’s culinary inspirations come from a life lived widespread across the United States. He set up roots in Atlanta after studying at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont where he developed his passion for cooking. In 2007, JCT Kitchen was opened and thus bloomed his career, solidifying his name as an “it” restaurateur.
The General Muir
Outstanding Baker: Robert Alexander
Helmed by head baker Robert Alexander along with his team, TGM bakery touts a product list of 17 (!) different kinds of bread, with plans to expand to retail and wholesale ventures. TGM bakery not only provides bread for The General Muir, but also other Atlanta-favorites including Yalla, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Ticonderoga Club and West Egg Café. So basically, it’s supplying carbs to most of the city.
1540 Avenue Place Suite B-23
Best Chef Southeast: Kevin Gillespie
If you think you have heard the name Kevin Gillespie, you’re not wrong. A finalist in the sixth season of Bravo’s Top Chef reality cooking competition, Gillespie is used to the recognition, as this year’s nomination marks his third. In 2009 he was a semifinalist for the Rising Star Chef of the Year category, and his cookbook, Fire in my Belly, was a 2013 finalist in the Cookbook: American Cooking category. Gunshow is his most recent, and perhaps most adventurous endeavor. Gillespie mixes the Chinese dim-sum dining style with Brazilian churrascaria, leaving us to think he is the only guy capable of pulling it off.
924 Garret St. Suite C
Outstanding Bar Program
By mixing the two best kind of bars in existence (a raw bar and a boozy bar) Kimball House is the kind of spot you will never want to leave. The Absinthe Service is an experience in itself and with 11 different kinds of the spirit to choose from, you will probably have to stay put regardless. The house cocktails are thought out and concocted with care, making Kimball House the sort of place you keep coming back to. Knowledgeable staff, sophisticated drinks, and a famed raw bar? Of course this spot is a semifinalist.
1540 Avenue Pl B-230
The Little Tart Bakeshop
Outstanding Baker: Sarah O’Brien
Grant Park/Inman Park
Die-hard Octane coffee house lovers already know that The Little Tart pastries are the jam thanks to their shared locale in Grant Park. And now that the French-loving bakehouse has a home in Krog Street Market, there is more flakey, buttery goodness to go around.
437 Memorial Drive SE/99 Krog St.
Outstanding Wine Program; Best Chef Southeast: Steven Satterfield
Already a highly decorated chef, Steven Satterfield is no stranger to James Beard nominations. In 2013 and 2014 he was a top five finalist in the category of Best Chef Southeast, and back in 2010, Miller Union was a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant Category. His reputation speaks for his capabilities in the kitchen, and his position at the helm of Miller Union is institutional, but he himself is dynamic. Satterfield champions fresh, local ingredients, which enhance the delectable dishes that much more.
999 Brady Ave NW
Best New Restaurant; Best Chef Southeast: Ryan Smith
Old Fourth Ward
Created by Jen Hidinger and her husband, Ryan Hidinger, Staplehouse is a for-profit subsidiary of The Giving Kitchen, serving as the organization’s ongoing financial engine. Also unique to Staplehouse? It’s the first restaurant in Atlanta to use the ticketing system, Tock. Diners pre-purchase tickets for the seats in the dining room online where they are served a 5-course chef’s tasting menu. (Spots at the bar and on the patio are first come, first served, where guests can order from a different, more casual menu.)
541 Edgewood Avenue
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Kimiko Nishimura
With pastries akin to delicious works of art, Kimiko Nishimura is an absolute master of her craft. By incorporating flavors beyond just those native to the spots Japanese cuisine, Nishimura has managed to create a repoitorie of desserts that are both intriguing and addictive. We’d say they’re too pretty to eat, but the delectable flavors are impossible to pass up.
3630 Peachtree Road #140