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Revisit: Floataway Cafe

Summer melon with country ham and sheep's milk feta (Credit: Leslie Kelly)

Summer melon with country ham and sheep's milk feta (Credit: Leslie Kelly)

Restaurants around town are preparing for the summer doldrums after a year in which it seemed the doldrums never stopped. But come July 4th, business is sure to slow even more, as it always does. Too hot to dine, the reasoning goes. If people venture outside for food, it’s only to the back deck, where they can wear shorts and clutch something very, very cold in a koozie.

It’s a pity because this is the season in which the top restaurants do their best work. The variety of early summer local produce give chefs inspiration, and their cooking becomes nuanced, colorful and surprising in ways it never can be during the height of the pre-holiday dining rush.

Consider Floataway Cafe — one of the first Atlanta restaurants to promote the credo of a cuisine based on local provender. With its soothing setting (it reminds me of a day spa) it feels welcoming any time of year. I’ve visited many times in fall and winter and found the food reliably good but sometimes heavy handed. I usually end up eating too much braised meat, pizza and fried food.

But I stopped in with a few friends (including this one and this one) last weekend looking for a light but satisfying meal, and the few things we ate and drink have been living in my memory ever since. Chef de cuisine Drew Belline is cooking food that couldn’t taste any better on a hot June evening.

Our waitress recommended the savory tomato martini. We really wanted to drink prosecco, but we shared one martini divided into four tiny shots. It was a limpid elixir with a bare blush of color and a flavor like the smell of garden tomato vines on your hands. A barely-there herb and spice crust on the glass rim put the flavors in perspective.

We passed around a salad of peaches, shaved fennel and teeny wild blackberries (so different from cultivated berries) with a few dots of fruity olive oil that brought the anise and tart fruit flavors together. Next, a sweet-meets-salt concoction of juicy summer melon, dollops of sheep’s milk feta and a sliver of velvety country ham.

Blue crab fritter with remoulade (Credit: Leslie Kelly)

Blue crab fritter with remoulade (Credit: Leslie Kelly)

The meal got a little heft from a blue crab fritter (basically a creamy crab cake disguised as a big hush puppy) and a bowl of the always great shoestring fries.

I see from the current menu that squash blossoms filled with house made ricotta are on the menu, and the peaches are now served with almonds and dandelion greens. I’m going to have to try them — and get a tomato martini all to myself.

22 comments Add your comment

Ali

June 29th, 2010
12:06 pm

Sounds yummy… but, we recently dined at Floataway and were disappointed with both the food and service. A departure from previous visits that have been quite memorable.

Puerquito

June 29th, 2010
12:12 pm

@ Ali – restaurants are not perfect. get over it.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

Patti

June 29th, 2010
12:24 pm

Puerquito, easy to say if you have barrels of cash to dine out with, but when most people are strapped for income these days, every dining dollar counts. Don’t be so quick to judge.

Peebo Van Der Sloot

June 29th, 2010
1:18 pm

…and Puerquito continues to be a tool

Puerquito

June 29th, 2010
1:29 pm

that is MR. TOOL to you Van Der Sloot

jimmy

June 29th, 2010
1:52 pm

I’m 0 for 2 at Floataway, but people keep talking about it positively, so I need another visit soon…

Puerquito

June 29th, 2010
1:54 pm

@ Patti – Everyone is hurting. However, restaurant workers do not get any slack. Apparently, when times are tough, the service industry needs to step it up…

Mike G

June 29th, 2010
3:58 pm

John, Floataway has been one of our favorites for years. To me, they went through a rough patch a few years ago, but came out of it with the renovation. It seems they have made a concerted effort to make the wine list more accessible and more affordable as well. My wife could eat the roasted chicken with bread salad every day of the week and be happy. You’ve had your beet “run” lately and I’ve always thought their beet appetizer was one of the best. I also like their pole beans with bacon vinaigrette app as well. I always have to finish with the ice cream with olive oil and sea salt. My favorite dessert. By the way, I’ve been seeing that or similar pop up on menus other places as well, most recently at Otto in New York. Keep up the great work!

Court

June 29th, 2010
4:33 pm

That roasted chicken with bread salad is a total copy of the one served at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Just sayin’.

ejt

June 29th, 2010
5:43 pm

Nice to hear they are doing well. It was one of our favorites until some distinctly uncivil treatment by the maitre d’ made us feel unwelcome the last time we were there, about a year ago. He seemed almost annoyed to have us. We should give it another shot, but if he’s there, I may turn on my heel and flee!

donkey200

June 30th, 2010
2:28 pm

Puerquito, you are not a pleasant person.

Just sayin'

June 30th, 2010
2:44 pm

I have never had a bad meal at Floataway.

Puerquito

June 30th, 2010
3:52 pm

@ donkey200 – In my opinion, people who walk into restaurants with emotional baggage and unrealistic expectations are the ones who are not pleasant.
And by the way, I have never had a bad meal at Floataway either – an amazing restaurant that deserves to be busier than the trendy burger discotheques.

RL

June 30th, 2010
3:54 pm

I was so looking forward to my meal at Floataway but the service was so bad that I could hardly concentrate on the food. Bad economy or not restaurants are in a service industry and if you expect people to pay for and enjoy your food you need to make sure the service is good. With the plethora of restaurant choices in Atlanta I see no need to give places multiple chances. If the food and/or services are bad I move on to the next location. I wouldn’t be successful in my profession if I did my job inconsistently so why should I allow a restaurant to do so?

ziza

June 30th, 2010
5:07 pm

I sooo agree with RL. Bad service will turn me off from a restaurant in a hurry. I don’t HAVE to spend my hard earned dollars anyplace where I do not feel welcomed and wanted. And I will not.

Dgator

June 30th, 2010
5:51 pm

Have they updated the room in the last few years? I have always thought of Floataway as not being a very attractive room, definitely not an elegant day spa?

JMan

June 30th, 2010
6:02 pm

I eat there regularly and love the place. I’ve NEVER had a problem with service, and as the article says, the food is divine.

gma

June 30th, 2010
10:08 pm

Went ther 6 mo. ago & both me & my husband were very disappointed. Will not go again.

Chip

July 1st, 2010
11:49 am

@ Puerquito. You’re right. On pretty much everything you’ve said.

Brad Studmufffin

July 2nd, 2010
9:35 am

I actually enjoy Perquito’s posts quite a bit. Keep em coming!

Monica Ricci

July 17th, 2010
2:25 pm

I’m a foodie who has lived in this fair city for fourteen years now and I confess there are way too many places I’ve still never been. In fairness to myself though, you could go to a different place every night for fourteen years and still not hit ‘em all… but I digress.

Floataway is one of those places I’ve always “meant to go” but have still not gone. Along with Bacchanalia, Rathbun’s, and yes even Pura Vida is on the have-yet-to-eat-there list. I know, I need to be flogged. It’s pathetic.

Anyway, having just read the super duper mixed reviews on Floataway, I’m a little hesitant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than willing to hand over some serious change for an amazing meal, but I need to be confident before I do that it’ll truly be amazing.

Speaking of amazing, has anyone ever eaten at Rosemary’s in Las Vegas? That place is amazing.