Atlanta of late is awash in a whole lot of hotel restaurants that don’t want to be thought of as hotel restaurants. They want to be restaurant restaurants.
Brand name concepts (BLT Steak, Craft) and separate street entrances with distinctive architecture (Pacci, Market) try to indicate that these restaurants exist for Atlantans as well as hotel guests.
The St. Regis in Buckhead draws a good happy hour crowd to its bar — particularly on warm days when the crowd can spill onto the patio. But its grand dining room, Paces 88, hasn’t struck too resonant a chord yet. Recently the restaurant unveiled a more casual menu, with more plates to share, sandwiches and other friendly, accessible items.
I stopped by for lunch with a couple of friends the other day to check it out. We were the only people in the restaurant. The service staff actually outnumbered us, but they didn’t hover at all. In fact, the service was really excellent.
Here’s what we got:
My friend ordered these mussels in a coconut curry cream. The one she gave me to try still had its beard (the hairy filaments that attach the mollusk to rocks) attached. I also noted that a number of the mussels had not opened, and after prying apart as many as she could, my friend gave up. The yellow sauce was tasty — sharp with curry and very rich.
I went for this goat cheese tart — basically a round of nicely puffed puff pastry slathered with warm, melty cheese, then topped with roasted tomatoes and a tuft of nicely dressed arugula. I enjoyed it.
These meals each cost $15 — not outrageous, but not cheap.
Alas, my first impression is this: Hotel food.