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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

Pat

November 13th, 2009
7:37 am

Thanks for the information on the steak houses. I’m always wary of spending a lot of money at steak places only to be disappointed. Most times I hear about elegant and expensive places around ATL and how diners end up dissatisfied.

Do the radio button poll!!!!!

tami h.

November 13th, 2009
7:50 am

Hal’s has always been my go to steak place in ATL…

phar71

November 13th, 2009
8:16 am

How about giving a Brasilian Steakhouse a shot, just to compare flavors of the meat?

phar71

November 13th, 2009
8:17 am

Also out of the three are you picking Bones as the winner? I love bones, like it better that Kevin R, but never been to BLT.

baker

November 13th, 2009
8:28 am

The grit fritters seemed like a good call until that third round of onion rings coasted by our table…

M

November 13th, 2009
9:02 am

If only the newspaper would send you to Greenville, Mississippi, so that you could compare Doe’s Eat Place with these local steakhouses. Doe’s building is truly a dump, but its steak is a wonderful experience. Don’t forget the tamales as your appetizer. And who knew a simple chopped salad could be so good.

Chip Shoulder

November 13th, 2009
9:06 am

Thanks to a forutnate convergence of business dinners, I had the chance to do Chops one night, BLT Steak the next, and Bones a week later. I also got the ribeye at each.

I agree with everything you’ve written, but there’s something you didn’t squarely address: my steak at BLT (in addition to straying too far to the medium side of medium rare) did not have the depth of flavor or the texture of the beef at Chops or Bones. I’m no expert on prime beef vs. other grades, but I’ve got to wonder if BLT Steak slides by with inferior beef thanks to the garlic butter, roasted garlic, seasoning, etc. they serve with their steaks.

If a steakhouse is to be judged on the quality of its steaks alone, of these three, i’d say bones is tops, with chops tailing by a french fry. BLT is a distant third.

top chef fanatic

November 13th, 2009
9:06 am

well mr Kessler …i havent blogged yet on BLT …because im still figuring my approach, But i have to say like most Atlantans you chose the homefield favorite! Its kinda sad because i cant critique Bones, because i have never dined there. But it is very clear that you gave it a more thorugh review (with the course by course pics) and finally you got a steak cooked to perfection . It was like the 3 bears with you. So im kinda wondering at this point. I have to ask about the price thing , If all 3 entrees were the same as which they are in every high end steak house . What made Bones the better deal? It bugs me that people complain about the prices at these steakhouses and restraunts and they have no idea in what it takes to get the beef there and what goes into its aging. Its really simple the menu is outside so tirekickers can look and either eat or dream. Pretty much from what i see in the people in ATL want the 4 stars and want to pay for it with change its pretty bogus and thats why chain restraunts strive in this city. Try going to PRIME 112 down on southbeach miami ….then tell me what you think about the check. With lobster 30$ a pound at a 4 lb minimum…but the congac butter sauce is sooo worth it. I will end with this have you ever thought about adding the Capitol Grille to that list of atlanta steakhouses? right in buckhead top floor and great 12 ft windows with a nice view. (new england steakhouse) …nationwide chain:)

thanks and have a blessed day:)

http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=44031310&albumID=115065&imageID=12657987

Kris 10

November 13th, 2009
9:12 am

Classics never go out of style! Huzzah to Bone’s! And now I am starving for steak, it’s 9:15 in the morning…thanks, John.

Love it!

November 13th, 2009
9:48 am

My favorite steak is the one I cook on my own grill…we’ve tried all the fancy places and I just prefer mine cooked on my Weber with a touch of Dale’s marinade. Yumm-O!

Chris

November 13th, 2009
10:32 am

John, Thanks for including this Atlanta institution on your “30″ list. When I think of a perfect steak dinner, I immediately think of Bone’s. Nothing else compares.

Jon

November 13th, 2009
10:38 am

I was fortunate enough to hit up BLT Steak in Washington, DC last night — mostly due to the review from the previous day’s steak-o-rama. It was a really good meal, not great, but good. The prices were a little inflated, but I didn’t leave disappointed by any means.

KR Steak is my favorite in Atlanta…

JSC

November 13th, 2009
10:39 am

The wedge salad has me licking my laptop screen. Sure, it’s a coronary on a plate. Blue cheese, warm bacon, crisp iceberg lettuce.

Sweet baby Jesus, call me a wambulance cause I am crying for this side right now.

Mike

November 13th, 2009
10:47 am

Bones was my favorite for years. I had always experienced great service and food. Last October, however, my wife brought me to Bones for my birthday dinner and it was probably the last time. Within two minutes of walking in the door, the Maître d’ asked my wife if she was expecting twins (she was 8 months pregnant, but with one child). Let’s just say that the entire dinner was uncomfortable from that point on. After that comment, Bones quickly made it’s way to the family “blacklist”, which is disappointing.

N-GA

November 13th, 2009
10:47 am

There are good reasons why Bone’s can charge a hefty price yet still draw a crowd.. BTW, Why is there an apostrophe in “Bone’s”?

MB

November 13th, 2009
10:49 am

Love Bones. Wish I could afford to dine there more often.

Hi there

November 13th, 2009
10:50 am

As a steak lover, I tend to agree with you, but would love to see a few more places check out before crowning a king. I will say that the honey and I cook our own steaks at home that just melt in your mouth. The cut of meat does make a difference and how you cook it does as well. We rub them down with olive oil, rub in the spices, sear in a pan on the stove and finish in the oven (the way most steak places do it) and are in heaven. Having the pan makes all the difference, but now I am really looking forward to cooking steak tomorrow night. :-) YUM!!!

Voice of Reason #1

November 13th, 2009
10:54 am

I haven’t been to Bone’s for a steak since I first visited Stoney River/Roswell a few years ago. Stoney River’s steaks, and stone puppies with honey-butter—yum, yum, yum!

Lazy Sam

November 13th, 2009
10:57 am

Thank god you are back John! If one of these “new” food bloggers reviewed that wedge salad they would have griped about not having Benton bacon and no heirloom tomatoes…it’s gotten tiring and over done.

Keep it up. Love the reviews from a professional!

BBQ Gal

November 13th, 2009
10:58 am

John– You’ve got to hit D.B.A. in the Highlands for phenomenal BBQ….New Chef and Pit Master Drew Kirkland is wicked talented– and brings his own LANG Smoker to the joint for the best smoked wings I’ve ever tasted…..Check it out for one of your November restaurants!

http://www.dbabarbecue.com

Kessler's MD

November 13th, 2009
11:04 am

I’ve called you in a prescription for Lipitor. Take that for a month and then call the office for an appointment for a stress test and a thallium scan. Hopefully a cardiac catheterization won’t be required.

Seriously though John, your blitz of the beef purveyors reminds me a bit of golf. Everyone loves a steak and a round of golf but doing either professionally every single day requires a special person such as yourself. By day three I wouldn’t be able to look at another Ribeye. It says something that you saved Bone’s for last and still placed it first.

BBB

November 13th, 2009
11:07 am

Bone’s has the BEST lobster bisque in the world!

McSteak

November 13th, 2009
11:08 am

I am sorry………I just had to wipe my drool! ………………..Unfortunately I haven’t been in a while, but I just had flashbacks of not just my last visit, but my last two visits. I am sooooo glad you enjoyed it. The pictures are killing me!! There are many great steak restaurants in the greater Atlanta but….

STEAK HALL OF FAME: Bone’s

BBB

November 13th, 2009
11:08 am

Enter your comments here

Katharine

November 13th, 2009
11:09 am

I’ve been to Chops, Bone’s, Prime, Craft, Ruth’s Chris, Rathbun’s Steak, Morton’s, and other steak houses in the city. I haven’t been to BLT, but I don’t care for the blackened treatment, so it sounds like it is safe to miss that one. In my opinion, the best steak is at Craft; the best value is at Prime (Early Bird Special).

lwalden

November 13th, 2009
11:11 am

FOGO All the way…..salad bar is to die for. But, don’t load up on the salad. It’s so easy to do because it’s perfect. You can have steak, chicken, pork, lamb for 1/3 the price of these other ATL Steak houses. You won’t be disappointed!

PMC

November 13th, 2009
11:24 am

Loved the bone in filet at Bones. The service was fantastic, Everyone was very courteous and the food was delicious.

I really enjoyed my trip to Bones. My wife took me for my birthday.

Bacchus

November 13th, 2009
11:26 am

McKendrick’s- excellent service and perfectly cooked meat. Morton’s is good too. Would pick the Buckhead location over downtown. Haven’t been to Bone’s yet- only for very special occasions!

Chris

November 13th, 2009
11:45 am

Fogo De Chao is by far the best overall steakhouse in Atlanta.

Jenn

November 13th, 2009
11:48 am

I just finished my lunch now I’m hungry again! The grit fritters look good, but how do you pass up the o-rings? They’re phenomenal. Bones is cool. It’s like Sinatra old school cool with seriously good (simple) food.

Stephen Smith

November 13th, 2009
12:20 pm

Bone’s is simply the best place in Atlanta to get a steak and has been for a long time. Food and service are spot on. The more things change, the more they are the same.

Meateater

November 13th, 2009
12:36 pm

Capitol Grill is wonderful.. my favorite.

KLJ voice

November 13th, 2009
12:37 pm

Call me simple, but I would choose Houston’s for their reasonalby priced but hugely flavorful Hawaiian steak anyday. Bones is awesome, but the price is not so awesome for my budget. Long live Houston’s!

John Kessler

November 13th, 2009
12:42 pm

Love it! Have you ever been to Dale’s Florence, Alabama? What a trip.
Baker: Seriously. Folks — meet Jonathan Baker, the “dining companion” and fine editor of Citysearch Atlanta.
MD: I’m on Lipitor.
Chip Shoulder: Interesting comment about BLT’s meat. I do think after eating at Bone’s I liked it a little less. The seasoning and char was button pushing, but it did obscure the meat’s flavor. That’s what so struck me at Bone’s (apostrophe? No idea. Need to find out): the flavor of the meat was so subtle and engaging, and it came through in every bite. It was the one steak I actually helped finish, hence the semi-gross but appropriate bone shot.

Steak Lover

November 13th, 2009
12:44 pm

My first trip to Bones was many years ago. Always, always the best! I’ve often said you can have four people waiting on you without even knowing it. Very unobtrusive. Table crumbs magically disappear. Of course, at those prices it should be great. It is.

Madge

November 13th, 2009
12:50 pm

I’ve eaten at Bone’s, Kevin Rathbun Steak, Chops, McKendricks, Morton’s Ruth’s Chris, Fogo de Chao (and others of that ilk), and Pacci. Full disclosure: my husband and my best friend are huge carnivores and always want to go for steaks when we decide to venture out on the town. By a wide margin, Bone’s is my favorite. Impeccable service, every time. I always feel so welcomed at Bone’s. We usually order the Bone’s salad to share, along with those amazing onion rings to go with our expertly cooked steaks. I’m not a fan of the Brazilian steakhouses – it’s just too much food for me to deal with, but I realize I’m not their target customer. And every time I’ve been to Chops, I’ve been disappointed with the service and the food. If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I expect the best – and Bone’s is the best in Atlanta.

Mr Steak

November 13th, 2009
1:04 pm

I like the steak at the “Waffle House” MMMMMMM 10 oz T-bone.

RK

November 13th, 2009
1:12 pm

After reading these, I’ll give one of them a shot. Steakhouses bore me — they seem to have the same ol’ thing, and I always leave feeling ripped off. The only creative thing listed here are the fritters, although the marrow bone at BLT was a nice touch (and I have heard those gougeres are fantastic).

jennifer

November 13th, 2009
1:26 pm

Bone’s is proof that you don’t have to be “creative” to serve a perfect meal. There’s a reason some dishes are classics, and others only arrived on the scene 6 months ago. I’ve eaten at all of these places, and Bone’s remains the gold standard.

get on a plane and go

November 13th, 2009
1:32 pm

Go to Buenos Aires, Argentina (forgive the spelling) and downtown on Florida Avenue, is a little place called ‘El Establo’, the stable. Always several Americans in the place for some reason. Very reasonable and the most fantastically tender, stunningly flavorful grassfed beef you could hope for. Wine, salad, the whole works for about 18 bucks US. I know, it’s a long way for a steak. IT IS WORTH IT.

jonnymack

November 13th, 2009
1:32 pm

“A wonderful, wonderful dinosaur.” Such a fitting description. Bone’s is a deserving legend in Atlanta. Whenever we want to splurge and treat ourselves to a wonderful steak, this is the spot we always come back to. We may have the occasional steak affair with a Rathbun Steak or maybe even the venerable Chops, but we can’t quit Bone’s. Nor should we.

Love the blog John, it’s a real treat to read.

Vampirella

November 13th, 2009
1:42 pm

How many times is “Mike” going to post that his knocked-up wife got offended? She and her faux-macho spouse can just get over it. People go around just TRYING to be insulted. Dostoevsky wrote a brief essay on this phenomenon.

john

November 13th, 2009
1:44 pm

Bone’s restaurant is awesome, but for the budget minded who want to treat their family to great steaks I suggest you get yourself a costco card and check out their selection of prime cuts. Amazingly priced and you don’t have to worry about them being old because they only put a few out at a time and they replenish the display as needed.
Next learn how to cook a steak like the best steakhouses do. That would mean cooking at extremely high temperature for a shorter amount of time and then letting the meat rest before serving.
I am lucky enough to have one of those expensive ceramic komodo style cookers (big green egg) and it is hard to beat for cooking at very high temps ( Steaks, pizza) or low temps (pork shoulder, prime rib)

lakerat

November 13th, 2009
3:26 pm

I, too, have eaten many meals at Bones, Chops, The Palm, Mortons, Stoney River, Killer Creek, NY Prime, etc; I last went to Bones in 2001 to celebrate my son’s 16h birthday – it was a special occasion and since I was on their mailing list as having eaten there many times previously (both business and pleasure meals), I thought this would be a great place for this celebration. Unfortunately, that was the night they decided to treat me and my family like we were scum, and the food was totally lacking, too. Come to think of it, the steaks (always had the rib eye) were starting to get bad the 3 – 4 previous times I ate there, so I guess it was only fitting that that night was the end of what had been a good relationship.

I have not set foot in the place since, nor do I plan to dine there. Whenever I have business associates from out of town ask for suggestions regarding Bones I decline to comment on the restaurant, but I do direct them to other destinations. Mortons, The Palm (both in many locations) have always “hit the spot” with me and my family. The only other “name” steak house where I have had a similar experience was Ruth’s Chris, and I have not dined there either, after my other son’s birthday was a disaster (prior to the 16th b-day previously mentioned). There are just too many good restaurants to go to to think that Bones is anything special – it totally lacks both class and sophistication – at least in my estimation!

Sean M

November 13th, 2009
3:50 pm

Mike, Mike…. now be honest… how much weight did your wife put on? The twins comment could have been legit.

oh and, Kessler for prez.

dan

November 13th, 2009
3:51 pm

I love all the restuarants mentioned but I SWEAR the NY Strip at THE HIGHLANDER on Monroe Drive in Midtown ranks as one of THE BEST!!

John Kessler

November 13th, 2009
4:14 pm

Dan, seriously? The Highlander. I’m most intrigued…

Kris 10

November 13th, 2009
4:19 pm

Perhaps the maitre’d thought Mrs. Mike surely must have more than one bun in the oven if she was coming to Bone’s to eat? Really, get over yourselves. You fattty fat fats.

Cathy

November 13th, 2009
4:44 pm

Bones, by a mile!

phar71

November 14th, 2009
12:36 am

So no interest in checking the Brazilian steakhouses in town. I would like to see just a taste at Fogo to get your thoughts on the difference between them.

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.

s.d.

Sarge

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!

Sandy

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!

Nona

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.

LargeLeon

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.

D

November 15th, 2009
5:19 pm

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

jthreeatl

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.

Reba

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.

david

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.

Shawn

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.

Jon

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!

Virginia

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)

Elisson

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.