“We’d like a table outside, please.”
written by COLLEEN ANN MCNALLY | photography courtesy of PACES & VINE; RAFTERMEN PHOTOGRAPHY; CHRISTINA D’VICTOR; ANIS CAFÉ & BISTRO; IAIN BAGWELL
With every blue sky comes the hope of snagging a coveted spot for al fresco dining and we’ve found seven picks prime for dining with Vitamin D. Beyond the patio, pedestrian friendly streets and shops abound so you can stay outside even longer. Don’t forget the sunglasses.
PACES & VINE
Southern comfort meets modern delight at Paces & Vine, located in Vinings Jubilee since 2014. Chef Ian Winslade is able to play with the familiar flavors and neighborhood feel he helped to create at Murphy’s, their big sister restaurant in Virginia-Highland, while maintaining the same standard for using ingredients straight from farms. Fresh air is the ideal complement to the fresh food. With capacity for private dining up to 56, this patio may be the perfect place for your special occasions this spring.
- WEEKEND BRUNCH
- DOGS WELCOME
FOR SIPPING: Before you default to your favorite bottle, consider attending wine tasting events held each Wednesday. This month pops off with Judgement of Paris on April 6, pitting California Cabs and Chardonnays against French Red Bordeaux and White Burgundy.
STAND-OUT DISHES: We have to point out the chickpea hummus with grilled pita and pickled vegetables, Whiskey Shrimp Scampi with lemon rosemary risotto, spinach and kale and the truffle mac and cheese.
OUR SEAT: On a cool night, we’d like to be as close to the outdoor brick fireplace as possible. For the sporting crowd, televisions are within rooting distance.
4300 Paces Ferry Road Southeast, Vinings, pacesandvine.com
DRIFT FISH HOUSE & OYSTER BAR
As fans of restauranteur Doug Turbush’s Seed Kitchen & Bar and Stem Wine Bar, we couldn’t wait to dive in to his latest East Cobb concept. With attention paid to each salty detail, Turbush traveled to meet the families behind the eight boutique varieties available at the raw bar, or served smoked or wood-roasted.
As beautiful as the interior’s breezy, yet sophisticated, custom-built furniture and sculptures are, reserve seats for dinner on the spacious patio. You can almost imagine coastal waters, rather than a blacktop, on the other side of the wood planters and blue awning. Mixologist Jose Pereiro’s creative cocktails, made with top-notch spirits and ingredients that stay afloat with the same standard of quality set by Chef Brendan Keenan’s menu, can further indulge any illusions. We’re hooked.
- LUNCH (Beginning June 1, 2016)
FOR SIPPING: Pereiro shows off with combinations like Boxing the Compass, made with St. Augustine rum, Blackwell rum, sherry, ginger-lemon syrup, lime and bitters.
STAND-OUT DISHES: For some Asian influence, try the Carolina trout with bahn mi flavors, lettuce wraps and pickled jalapeño aioli or yellowfin tuna poke with avocado, spicy radish and plantains.
OUR SEAT: We pick one of the eight outdoor stools that extend the eye-catching, indoor wraparound bar.
4475 Roswell Road, Marietta, driftoyster.com
Last summer, the lines at then-brand-new Bocado Burger were borderline insanely long. While we may have been a little “hangry” waiting, we couldn’t blame the excitement when the chic Westside restaurant opened their Avalon outpost devoted to an American staple. Time will tell if the lines level off or double, but like any of Avalon’s restaurants, great people watching is guaranteed. Not your average burger joint, the menu curates the finest local ingredients, such as Many Fold Farms, Sweetgrass Dairy, Holeman & Finch Bread Co., The Spotted Trotter, Caly Road Creamery, Green Ola Acres Farm and High Road Ice Cream, just to name a few.
- DOGS WELCOME
FOR SIPPING: The warmer the temperature, the harder it is to resist a hand-spun chocolate shake, made with Cacao Atlanta chocolate and sea salt. Leaving the kids at home? Their bar is well equipped to make cocktails like the Master Blaster, too. In fact, the esteemed beverage program has inspired a spin-off concept, AMER, now open in Inman Quarter.
STAND-OUT DISHES: The Bocado Burger stack with American cheese, bread and butter pickles and mayo started it all. If you must skip the hand-cut herb fries, you might not miss them too badly with alternatives like quinoa salad with cowpeas, avocado, cucumber, radish, cilantro and cashew-lime butter.
OUR SEAT: A picnic table within view of the bocce ball court.
2820 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta, bocadoburger.com
SOUTH MAIN KITCHEN
Housed in a space filled with reclaimed wood and original brick dating back more than a century, South Main Kitchen does its part to elevate downtown Alpharetta’s reinvigoration efforts. The deliberate design — exposed ceilings and vintage lighting — highlight the history, while feeling current, stylish and proud of what’s next.
- SUNDAY BRUNCH
FOR SIPPING: The beverage program aligns well with the seasonality of the food menu — fresh, in-season and hailing from local purveyors. If you are into mezcal, you’ve come to the right place. New for spring is Smokey and the Bandito, made with mezcal, aperol, lime, agave, and alderwood smoked sea salt. Here, you can air your desire for what’s chic — in fact, the word “snobs” adorns the upstairs bar.
STAND-OUT DISHES: You’ve heard “ingredient driven.” At South Main, you taste Chef Christy Stone’s modern, healthier version of Southern comfort. We were quite content with Brussels sprouts, dressed in feta, bacon and lemon Dijon vinaigrette as well as blood orange glazed pork belly with white bean purée, pickled red onion and hot pepper sauce. The cauliflower ravioli and kale chips are other prime examples.
OUR SEAT: Currently, at the historic area’s only rooftop bar, but once the alleyway’s bar and lounge area becomes available later this season, we might have to split our time. Come early or stay late on Thursdays, when food trucks fill the streets from 5 to 9 p.m. beginning April 19.
9 South Main Street, Alpharetta, southmainkitchen.com
ANIS CAFÉ AND BISTRO
Seeking sunny yellow with a whimsical vibe and bright blooms? Anis Bistro, tucked off Buckhead’s quaint Grandview Avenue is a “hidden gem” for feeling like you’ve escaped to the south of France. A 2014 Diner’s Choice award from OpenTable proves after 20 years, this charming patio has withstood its changing skyline.
- SUNDAY BRUNCH
- DOGS WELCOME
FOR SIPPING: Ask your server to suggest a wine from their extensive list. We suggest an after-dinner coffee so you can sip until you’ve had your fill of the atmosphere.
STAND-OUT DISHES: The Tartare de Tomate is a beautiful stack of roasted vine ripe tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and baby arugula saba vinegar. Those who favor white wine sauce with their mussels will need extra bread with their famous Moules Marinières. The Saucisses Merguez Grillées — grilled Merguez sausage, Yukon Gold potato purée, baby Vidalia onions, Dijon mustard — was another pleasant surprise. Oh, and leave room for dessert.
OUR SEAT: Come on Thursday nights to enjoy live music on the patio.
2974 Grandview Avenue, Buckhead, anisbistro.com
TABLE & MAIN
This roundup wouldn’t be complete without Canton Street’s colorful awnings and crowds. Since opening in 2011, Table & Main’s “simple, seasonal and Southern” cuisine has been a mainstay on our list of desired spots to dine. Set a little below street level and secluded by greenery and a brick fireplace, the elegant patio is an extension of the porch and dining rooms with white-clothed tables, friendly, expert servers and warm ambiance. Add the fire pit and custom marble tables at Osteria Mattone, an Italian concept across the street from the same talented team, to your personal patio check list as well.
- CLOSED MONDAYS
FOR SIPPING: If you’re waiting for the outdoor seat, and odds are this may be the case for walk-ins, begin at the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. Toast the evening with one enjoyed by men and women alike — The Girly Drink, made with Gruet brut sparkling wine, Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, Combier, Peychaurd’s bitters and orange. Browse their library of more than 50 bourbons, ryes and whiskeys for additional handsome options. STAND-OUT DISHES: We started with the beet salad, with beets prepared three ways, satsuma citrus, Capra Gia goat cheese and a 6-minute egg and the plate of house-cured or preserved goods. We won’t argue with their fried chicken’s loyal following, however spring additions to the menu make choosing challenging. Don’t miss the Myer lemon and rosemary grilled South Carolina trout.
OUR SEAT: A sign by the bar quoted Hemingway’s belief that standing at a bar beats sitting at a table, but we will argue here that he never visited Table & Main. Regardless of table, your check will arrive in a copy of a literary classic. Linger longer with bourbon pecan ice cream to read a few lines and add a memory from your meal in the margins.
1028 Canton Street, Roswell, tableandmain.com
–Reviewed by Jennifer Colosimo
Chef Matt Swickerath already had our hearts with his menu at Valenza, so now that he’s helped turn the space next door into a Napolean-style pizzeria, he’s got our (food) souls too. The hearty Italian toppings on delicious double zero and a slew of sides and salads are worth over-stuffing yourself.
Inside, the rustic vibe is perfect for casual dining amongst the aromas of a smoldering brick oven (handmade in Italy), but now that the weather calls us outside, their cozy patio provides a handful of seats with a quaint view of the Dresden daily. It’s also a great place to sharpen your smoke skills. Swickerath, along with Haven Chef Stephen Herman and Big Green Egg’s Bruce Bohannon are leading a hands-on Smoke Cooking Class April 30.
FOR SIPPING: Order the Super Tuscan Poggialupi, Rodano with your meatsy pizzas or a local brew to wash down your whites. Finish with an ice-cold shot of Limoncello.
STAND-OUT DISHES: Start with the creamy burrata salad and wood-roasted carrots. Your main course should include the No. 2 pie with Brussels sprouts, fontina, pancetta and cipollini or the No. 8, a pie packed with guanciale, pecorino, black pepper and a fresh farm egg cracked and drizzled over top right at the table.
OUR SEAT: It’s first-come, first-served, so we’ll take what we can get!
1441 Dresden Drive, Brookhaven, veropizzeria.com