City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Bone’s Restaurant

AJC Staff

AJC Staff

This visit to Bone’s ends a three-day look at Atlanta steak houses. Tomorrow I go back to inexpensive dining — with a vengeance!

Anyone who has been following my Atlanta snarf-o-rama thus far knows that I am not above skewering  sacred cows. I figure the restaurants will sink or swim on their own merits, whether they are local favorites or branches of out-of-town chains.

And so I’ve been to two steak houses in short order.

The first, Kevin Rathbun Steak, is a local favorite. A modern interpretation of the genre, it’s all about big flavors, lots of choice, creativity and indulgence.

The second, BLT Steak, is a link in a global chain. It’s part of the new breed of hyphenated steak houses that hotels are finding to be sure bets these days. We’ve got “Italian Steak” at Pacci in the Palomar, “Southern Steak” at Park 75 in the Four Seasons, and this “French Bistro Steak.”

The third, Bone’s Restaurant, is a dinosaur. A wonderful, wonderful dinosaur.

I love that even on a flooded-street Tuesday, the dining room is buzzing and busy. The guests are animated by the energy of the old-fashioned room, which has literally hundreds of old pictures hanging from the walls. There are a few women among the clientele, but when I look around I see tables of dudes, dudes and more dudes.

Shall we look at the meal in blurry, underlit phone pictures?

bones1My guest and I start with this shrimp cocktail ($15) — three big boys that have been poached and cooled in just the right way to get that juicy, lobstery snap.

Wedge salad (first of several lousy pictures)

Next up came this wedge salad ($10) with all the usual suspects. Dear readers, the bacon was still warm from the pan. And kind of sizzly. Good Lord.

bones3Following suit to my previous meals, I order this 22-ounce bone-in ribeye ($55) to share.  It is scary expensive, though no more than two normally expensive entrees. It is also a spot-on medium rare prepared simply with basic seasoning and a thin jus. You really taste the mellow funk and tang of the meat. While I would have liked a thicker ribbon of ribeye cap, the crunchy strip of rendered fat is a treat.

bones2My companion can never go to Bone’s without ordering these grit fritters — the goofy house specialty that tastes like Boursin cheese, butter and gritty goodness. We see massive platters of onion rings go by and wish we had ordered those. Normally I want a green vegetable beyond iceberg lettuce, but in the context of this meal I’m willing to make an exception.

bones4We leave little for the dog. There’s something about the way the meat smells close to the bone that I find appealing in an almost feral way.

Something else I really, really like about Bone’s is the wine list. Sure it has the power and the prestige, but the thick, laminated pages hold a treasure hunt of inexpensive offbeat labels. There’s a bottle of wine for any budget. How nice to see so many Old- and New-World choices in the $30s, $40s and $50s respectfully listed among bottles priced in the multiple hundreds. If you like, you can plan your wine buying ahead of time by looking at the online wine list.

I never mind skewering sacred cows, but I certainly love giving them their well-earned due. Bone’s celebrates the flavors of premium ingredients prepared simply, and for that reason I find the food so much more subtle and interesting than at many other steak houses. For my money, Bone’s is the best.

What do you all think: should I get one of those radio-button poll things going? Bone’s, Chops, Kevin Rathbun Steak, BLT, Stoney River, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Fleming’s, McKendrick’s….what am I missing?

67 comments Add your comment

Susan DeRose

November 14th, 2009
10:51 am

Dear Mr Kessler-

Thank you for the honor. Being your favorite steak house makes us truly proud and pleased. We’ll keep up the good work and strive to get even better.

**And very sorry to the lady we insulted while pregnant. That was a huge mistake on our part! I’ll get on that issue asap. You can be sure we won’t make that gaff again.



November 14th, 2009
12:23 pm

These’s a family-type restaurant in Macon directly across the RR tracks in front of the Robbins main gate. No frill, gimmicks, or fancy stuff…just lots of good chow. Only problem is everything is soaked in 40-wt marinade. Tastes great, but you only want to eat there once every coupla years…cholesterol city!


November 14th, 2009
4:02 pm

I’ve eaten at many of the steak places mentioned by other commentors and my favorite steak restaurant is Bone’s. I always go there with friends and relatives on special occasions. Try the lamb sometime as a change from steak. My biggest disappointment was my meal at Kevin Rathbun’s Steak. The steak for 2 was probably the worst steak I’ve ever eaten at any price.

Ex Employee

November 14th, 2009
5:06 pm

I’ve waited tables at the best restaurants in the Country and none are better than Bone’s. You will not find a better meal in Atlanta! The service is sublime but not pretentious. A very masculine decor sets the scene for POWER!


November 15th, 2009
2:26 am

Never been to Bones, but I love New York Prime!

Cautious Eater

November 15th, 2009
1:45 pm

I suffer from migraines and find that MSG, which is a simple reference for approximately 15 different names for glutamates, is often used in restaurant food preparation. I would appreciate your comments about that as you travel on your restaurant journey. For example, I wonder about the ingredients in these spices that you mention on steaks and on the fried foods.


November 15th, 2009
4:21 pm

NewYork prime is way better they Chops and Bones in my experience. Less pretentious staff, tastier sides, reservations that mean you get seated on time.


November 15th, 2009
5:19 pm

Mr. Kessler, you are delightful. Now we know what put that huge smile on your face.


November 15th, 2009
5:38 pm

sorry, bones, BTL, are too expensive, so I would not set foot. I am in New Orleans now. Just went to Luke (John Besh) and it was fantastic. Atlanta restaurants are TOO expensive and mostly mediocre.


November 16th, 2009
5:00 am

Bones is THE place for beef. Hands down. No contest. Period. Have been to all the top places mentioned and Bones doesn’t even have a peer in Atlanta. Chops is a distant 2nd cousin, but nothing else compares. KRS is a joke in comparison. For the classic, best in class, Bones is the one. End of story.


November 16th, 2009
12:30 pm

Best Lobster Bisque is at Steamhouse Lounge. Can’t wait for Oysterfest 2010. Bets prime rib buffet is at Pink Pony! Can’t beat the 7.75 price and the special ambiance and sophistication of the place!

Bob from Accounttemps

November 16th, 2009
1:25 pm

I haven’t been to Bone’s in years and on the rare (pun intended) occassion where I go out for steak, I usually go to Prime because it’s a bit less “clubby” and I like a flame grilled steak (although it’s not as good as it used to be). It’s easy to claim Mr. Kessler went for the hometown favorite, but truth be told, these old-line steak houses that do nothing but LOTS of steak, typically do it better than anyone else. I ate at one such place recently in Phoenix/Scottsdale – Mastro’s – and it was hands down one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. Cheers to Bone’s for “keeping it real” and succeeding against the frou-frou new age steak houses.


November 16th, 2009
2:32 pm

As a dedicated carnivore for many years, I can concur that Bone’s is indeed a living legend here in Atlanta. They have been doing it so long and so well that they deserve all the recognition for being an Atlanta staple. I do feel, however, that there is one restaurant out there that is still doing things perfectly (another long lived brand) and that is Ruth’s Chris Steak House. They have a certain originality that certainly deserves mention. There is something to be said about modest seasoning of only salt and pepper and prime cuts wet aged to perfection. The finishing touch that only they do is what keeps me going back. Those superhot plates and just a dollop of butter adds a richness to the steaks that just cannot be matched. I am a raving fan of Ruth’s Chris and always will be.


November 16th, 2009
5:10 pm

Both my wife and I agree with Shawn. Ruth’s Chris is a favorite of ours. We have never had anything but fantastic service and food there, and have visited their restaurants all over the country. Just last week we ate at the newest location in Kennesaw. I think they had only opened a week or two before, and it was wonderful. Jessica took great care of us at the bar while we waited for our friends to arrive. Dinner was to die for, service was great, the design of the new restaurant was funky and cool. We will be back very soon!

Bob from Accounttemps

November 16th, 2009
5:37 pm

Sorry Shawn and Jon, I have never had a great steak at Ruth’s Chris – not bad mind you, but not great. As if the steak isn’t artery clogging enough, they put it in butter? Our last meal was at the one at Centennial Park and it was very average. And the sizzling platter is a bit hokey for me. Same goes for Morton’s. I so much prefer local places to the chains, especially when spending that kind of money. Ever been to Bern’s in Tampa? Something else!


November 16th, 2009
6:08 pm

I’m not originally from Atlanta so I don’t have this allegiance to Bones. I can honestly say that Ruth’s Chris is my favorite. Their $39 special is the best kept secret in town. The 3 course meal plus veggie has the best salad I’ve ever eaten in a steak restaurant. The portions are huge. My husband and I split it, Of course I get the dessert:) Also the sweet potato casserole is to kill for!….)and for the record I really do like the butter and the sizzle)


November 19th, 2009
12:55 am

Fleming’s? Feh. Gristly, nasty meat at premium prices… and their ahi tuna is no great shakes either. You can get a real steak at Bones for not much more money… and you won’t hate yourself in the morning.