Restaurant of the Year: Cooks & Soldiers
Atlanta's dining scene has continued to flourish in many ways over the last 12 months, so taking home Restaurant of the Year is no small feat. Cooks & Soldiers, helmed by Atlanta Chef of the Year finalist Landon Thompson, takes that honor with its Basque-inspired cuisine. It opened last December and quickly became one of the best options in the ultra-hot Westside neighborhood, putting together the whole package of food, beverages, and atmosphere. The Castellucci Hospitality Group operates wildly popular eateries all over the metro area — The Iberian Pig in Decatur, Sugo in Johns Creek, Double Zero Napoletana in Sandy Springs — and pretty much everyone agrees Cooks & Soldiers is the group’s best.
Chef of the Year: Christopher Grossman
Grossman has been running the kitchen at Atlas, a finalist for Atlanta’s Restaurant of the Year, since it opened in January, and he helped create the menu with Aria and Canoe restaurateur Gerry Klaskala. His culinary experience, which includes time at celebrated restaurants such as The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Common Grill in Michigan, has led him to the top of his field. Grossman’s interpretation of fine dining cuisine is catching rave reviews from diners and professional critics — three stars from Atlanta Magazine and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, four stars from Creative Loafing — and it may signal the return of the traditional, upscale dining trend in this city.
Stone Cold Stunner: Marcel
Tireless Atlanta restaurateur Ford Fry opened Marcel in July, taking over the Abattoir space in Westside Provisions District. Fry aimed to create an old-school experience at his European-style steakhouse, and while the menu has a throwback feel, it’s the decor that really gives a sense of stepping back in time. Designer Elizabeth Ingram took inspiration from 1920s France with antique rugs and mirrors, brass-top tables, silver coffee service, burgundy leather, and much more. Outside, the patio includes banquet seating that wraps around a fireplace. The final product easily could have come off as trite, but instead is whimsical.
Best Wine Program: Cakes & Ale
Quite simply, Cakes & Ale beverage director Jordan Smelt oversees Atlanta’s best wine program. The wine list at Cakes & Ale is, like the restaurant itself, smart, refined, and unique. The list is deep and diverse with a nod to old-world, smaller-production wines. You’ll find ever-changing by-the-glass choices that range from rarities like Spatburbgunder (think German Pinot Noir) to smart Chinon from the Loire Valley and sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne. The bottle list features excellent champagnes from the likes of Ulysse Collin, to numerous burgundy and barolo, with a number of back vintage choices, something you don’t see in most restaurants. There’s also plenty of obscure, fun wines on the list for the nerdiest wine geeks around. Look for smartly priced bottles of Teroldego, an esoteric red wine from northeastern Italy, and Arbois from Jacques Puffney, one of the masters of France’s now-ultra-hip Jura region. — Dennis Attick
So Hot Right Now: Revival
Kevin Gillespie's shrine to Southern food opened in Decatur’s old Harbour House Pub space in July, and it's been tough to get a table ever since. Gillespie and executive chef Andreas Müller set out with a clear goal in mind: remind diners of their own grandmothers' cooking. Turns out, the fried chicken, cornbread, mac and cheese, and deviled ham tea sandwiches might make a lot of grandmothers jealous. On top of the excellent food at Revival, Gillespie and Müller paid respect to the kinds of restaurants that inspired them by keeping prices reasonable.
Bartender of the Year: Julian Goglia, The Pinewood and The Mercury
Not only does he run the successful bar program as a partner at Decatur's popular neighborhood spot, The Pinewood, but this year saw Goglia mixing cocktails at the James Beard House in New York City and announcing plans for his second venture, The Mercury, slated to open soon at Ponce City Market. Recently, when he wasn’t tending bar or working on a burgeoning cocktail empire, he helped create Proof Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup, which allows the home bartender make classic beverages with ease. — Laura Scholz