Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mmm, fresh seafood in Atlanta

And after a single post about Cleveland, I'm back to Atlanta! Well, only for a short visit over Christmas. In between catching up with old friends and eating my mom's amazing food, my sister pumpkin and I sneaked out for a nice dinner out. I'd heard from a ton of people how great The Optimist was supposed to be, so we finally tried it out.Plus, even though Cleveland is on a lake, getting fresh food here can be a challenge...

The restaurant is located on the West Side of Atlanta, pretty close to JCT Kitchen and Abattoir. It also has the same feel to it: converted warehouse that's now both modern and sophisticated at the same time. But what the restaurant is really known for is the seafood. It has a large selection of raw oysters, which we unfortunately couldn't try :( Instead, we got the tuna tartare as a starter. This dish was both innovative and delicious. It came with duck breast ham and SHAVED hardboiled egg on top. How often do you see shaved egg or duck breast ham?!?!?! And yes, that's ham made out of duck breast. I don't know how they made it, but it was amazing, with a rich flavor that I usually associate with spicy dried sausages. The creaminess of the egg was perfect with the fresh tuna, and the ham provided a punch of flavor and saltiness to the otherwise plain fish. The plate was also spotted with a black garlic reduction for an additional layer of flavor. A great start to the meal that matched my expectations for the restaurant, but set new expectations for the main course.

For entrees, I got red snapper with roasted cauliflower, and Pumpkin had swordfish with beans and capers. Unlike the creative appetizer, the entrees were just standard. Well, they were delicious, but there was nothing special about them. The cauliflower was just like any cauliflower I've had. On the bright side, the fish was fresh and well cooked. Mine was a little bland, but Pumpkin's swordfish was well flavored.

Because we had been eating copious amounts of food for a few days, we didn't get a dessert this time. One things that irked me, though, is that our waiter didn't even ask us if we wanted the check or a dessert menu. He simply placed the dessert menu on our table and walked away. I guess that's a good strategy to entice someone into getting dessert, but I didn't appreciate it. Indeed, I found the service a little lacking and not up to par, especially compared to the other great restaurants nearby. The waiter came and asked us for our order as soon as we were seated, before we could even look at the menu, but when it was time for the check, he was no where to be seen. I did like certain aspects of The Optimist, but it has some work to do before it can catch up with the other great restaurants in the area.

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